Afghanistan 'will need billions in aid after troops leave'

Country could become terrorist haven again if the West does not maintain support, think tank warns

There is little prospect of a secure and safe Afghanistan until 2020 – six years after the 2014 deadline for troop withdrawal – according to a new report by one of the world's most respected think tanks. It warns the country is again in danger of becoming a haven for international terrorists.

Disaster will only be averted if the UK and others honour their commitment to support the Afghan government long after the soldiers have been brought home, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (ISS) report, Afghanistan: to 2015 and beyond, argues.

The report, released on Thursday, contradicts repeated assurances from Britain and the US that troop withdrawal in just three years' time is "on track" – claims based on the assumption that Afghanistan will then be ready to take on responsibility for its own security.

David Cameron is keen to end Britain's involvement in the decade-long conflict, which has seen more than 2,800 Nato deaths, including almost 400 British troops, and cost hundreds of billions of pounds.

Operation Enduring Freedom, as the US called the campaign, has driven the Taliban from power, killed Osama bin Laden and seen advances in women's rights, health and education.

However, the report warns that corruption, factional infighting, poverty and illiteracy all threaten the country's future potential. It adds that while more of the country is under government control, the fighting is far from over. Fighting in the east has intensified in recent months as insurgents take advantage of a concentration of coalition forces in the south. As a result, it cautions, eastern Afghanistan could become a recruiting ground for militants as well as "a base for international terrorist groups" – which is what prompted the 2001 invasion.

The assessment comes as the US turns its full military focus on Afghanistan, following its withdrawal from Iraq last Thursday.

However, a clean exit will not be easy, the report states. Violence remains at record levels. In August, the UN reported the average monthly number of incidents – including suicide attacks – was 2,108, up 39 per cent on the same period in 2010.

Other obstacles to overcome, says the report, include weaknesses in the Afghan army and police, a "shadow state" bankrolled by the drugs trade, and corruption "sanctioned from the highest levels of the Afghan state".

Future stability will depend on the coalition nations continuing to provide Afghanistan with billions in aid for years to come. According to British officials, the cost of maintaining the Afghan army and police after 2014 will be more than £5bn a year. The report stresses that to have any chance of success, the US and its allies must also continue to provide military and civilian training, and increase diplomatic efforts to maintain stability.

The report concludes that, "on the balance of probability, the country will not rapidly return to civil war". But it adds: "the country will remain poor, weak and unstable. Its politics will continue to be shaped by civil and military conflict."

Toby Dodge and Nicholas Redman, the study's co-editors, say the Afghan government has enough power to "impose a rough and ready control" but they conclude: "It will require extended oversight by the international community if Afghanistan is to avoid becoming once again a failed state and a platform for international terrorism."

State of the nation: Balance sheet after a decade of conflict

Education Despite Taliban attacks, more than seven times as many pupils (and 480 times as many girls) are now in primary or secondary school – 6.6m in 2009 compared to 910,000 in 2001. Poverty, forced marriage and lack of support force children to drop out. Adult literacy rates remain low, at 28 per cent.

Security forces Quality and corruption are the main issues. A shortfall of trainers – 1,000 posts are expected to be vacant by next March – is also a problem. Few units are thought capable of functioning without outside help.

Drugs The conflict has seen an explosion in drug production from close to zero under the Taliban to an industry that raises more than $100m a year in "taxes" levied by insurgents. Helmand province remains the biggest opium region, producing almost 2,000 tonnes in 2010, but growing areas have spread nationwide.

Victims The Afghans have paid the highest price for war. Civilian casualties rose from 1,523 in 2007 to 2,777 in 2010. While the majority are killed by insurgents, hundreds are killed by coalition forces each year, causing tensions with the Afghan government.

Democracy Elections have been tarnished by allegations of fraud and vote-rigging. Rumours persist that vote-buying is widespread.

Military casualties Annual deaths of coalition troops have soared from a handful in 2001, to a record high of more than 700 in 2010. Since 2001, 391 British soldiers have died.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Two christmas trees ,Moonbeam (2L), Moonchester (2R) and Santa Claus outside the Etihad Stadium
footballAll the action from today's games
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas