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ISAF Admits Afghan Election Violence Up, Not Down

Posted by on September 23rd, 2010

From our partners at

By Steve Hynd

The Afghan parliamentary elections saw a cratering in the turnout – reflecting Afghan apathy over rule by a corrupt elite – and a record number of accusations of fraud, almost 5,000.

In fact, right after the election the only bright spot seemed to be that election violence was down by as much as 37% over the presidential election last year, leading analysts like my pal Joshua Foust to write it was the only bright spot and that it was possible "insurgents either see a future in the government, or they feel the politics of government is something they want to participate in".

Certainly, ISAF was keen to spin the apparent drop in violence as a good thing.

"The people of Afghanistan sent a powerful message today," said U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top Western commander. "The voice of Afghanistan's future does not belong to the violent extremists and terror networks. It belongs to the people."

The trouble is, though, that a week later ISAF has had to concede that, instead of dropping, election violence rose to an all time record high.

A spokesman for Isaf said that although it had originally claimed there were fewer insurgent attacks on Saturday the true figure showed an increase of more than a third over last year's vote, which at the time was the most violent day of Afghanistan's post-Taliban period.

The figures are a significant volte face for Isaf, which on the day after the election asked one news agency to publish a correction after it reported an increase in violence.

Isaf's initial claim had been ridiculed by many observers who reckoned the level of violence was far higher. The Afghanistan NGO Safety Office said it recorded 443 insurgent attacks around the country on 18 September, a 56% increase on the 20 August presidential election last year.

That level of violence also constituted a 15-fold increase in violence for the month of September, the organisation said.


ISAF's new spin – that more troops were in the country so "More forces means more areas covered and may have led to increased insurgent-initiated attacks and increased reporting" is pretty weak tea. Weren't those increased forces meant to have stopped those attacks ever happening? That was the original story, certainly.

The three key words of the counterinsurgent, according to Petraeus' own manual, are legitimacy, legitimacy and legitimacy. We don't haz it.

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