Sunday, June 20, 2010

Afghan spin vs. Afghan reality

A U.N. report released Saturday painted a grim picture of the security situation in Afghanistan, saying roadside bombings and assassinations have soared the first four months of the year amid ramped up military operations in the Taliban-dominated south.

The United Nations' findings appeared at odds with Pentagon assertions this week claiming slow-but-steady progress in Afghanistan — an assessment challenged by U.S. lawmakers during hearings on Capitol Hill.

The report, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon submitted to the U.N. Security Council this week, said Afghanistan's overall security situation "has not improved" since his last report in March.

Roadside bombings in the first four months of 2010 skyrocketed 94 percent over the same period of 2009, and assassinations of Afghan officials jumped 45 percent, mostly in the ethnic Pashtun south, which has become the focus of the war, the report said.

Suicide attacks occurred at a rate of about three per week, half in the restive south. The increase in complex attacks — using a combination of suicide bombers and small-arms fire — pointed to Taliban groups linked with al-Qaida, the report said.

The administration spin is "slow-but-steady progress".

But, numbers don't lie.

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