Were French Soldiers Betrayed In Afghanistan?

The deaths of ten French soldiers and wounding of twenty in Afghanistan last week has raised questions concerning how a group of soldiers belonging to a crack military unit wandered into a trap. The French weekly paper, Le Carnard enchaine claimed yesterday, the wereabouts of the French troops who were caught in a deadly ambush near Kabul on 18 August were passed on to their attackers either by their interpreter or by Afghanistan police or soldiers. A French parliamentary committee is currently investigating the incident. According to the French newspaper, the interpreter who was assisting the French troops somehow disappeared a few hours before they set out on the operation. Claude Angeli, who wrote the story, notes, “common sense should have led his superiors to fear that he had warned the insurgents of the arrival of the patrol.” He also claims four French soldiers were captured during the initial ambush and then executed by Taliban insurgents.

A debate is emerging within the French government regarding what exactly is happening in Afghanistan. French Defense Minister Herve Morin told a parliamentary committee the situation in Afghanistan is not really a war, but Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner insists military clashes are “the same as war.”

The situation in Afghanistan is not a war in the conventional usage of the word nor is it exactly a guerrilla war in the classic definition of that expression. In some respects it resembles aspects of the Vietnam War when within South Vietnam there existed a considerable portion of the population that was sympathetic to the North Vietnamese communists. At times US and South Vietnam troops did not know exactly who they were fighting since their opponents often were warned by local population about the location of enemy forces. The only solution in such situations is for the government to win over people by being effective, free of corruption and offering vision of the future that is accepted by most people.