A decade of major security, development, and humanitarian assistance from the international community has failed to create a stable Afghanistan, a fact highlighted by deteriorating security and a growing insurgent presence in previously stable provinces over the past year. In 2011, the capital alone saw a barrage of suicide bombings, including the deadliest attack in the city since 2001; multiple strikes on foreign missions in Kabul, the British Council, and U.S. Embassy; and the assassination of former president and chief peace negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani. The prospects for next year are no brighter, with many key provinces scheduled for transfer to the ill-equipped Afghan security forces by early 2012.
The litany of obstacles to peace, or at least stability, in Afghanistan is by now familiar. President Hamid Karzai rules by fiat, employing a combination of patronage and executive abuse of power. State institutions and services are weak or nonexistent in much of the country, or else so riddled with corruption that Afghans want nothing to do with them. Dari-speaking ethnic minorities remain skeptical about the prospects for reconciliation with the predominately Pashtun Taliban insurgency, which enjoys the backing of Pakistan's military and intelligence services. The Taliban leadership in Quetta seem to reason that victory is within reach and that they have simply to bide their time until the planned U.S. withdrawal in 2014.