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.

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
News
newsVideo for No campaign was meant to get women voting
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Systems & Data Lead – Oxfordshire – Permanent – Up to £24k

£20000 - £24000 Per Annum 28 days holiday, free parking, pension: Clearwater P...

Digital Media Manager

£38000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Primary Supply Teacher in Stevenage

£115 - £121 per day: Randstad Education Luton: primary teacher Hertfordshire

Year 3 & Year 4 Teachers Wanted

£115 - £121 per day: Randstad Education Luton: year 3 & 4 teacher Hertfordshir...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?