Arif Ayub RAND Corporation has just published a report on How Insurgencies End by Ben Connabe and Martin Cebicci, based on the analysis of 89 insurgencies using various parameters and the prognosis for Afghanistan is not good. Out of the cases studied 28 ended in a success for the government, 26 were won by the insurgents, 19 had a mixed result and 16 were ongoing. The general conclusions were that medium length of an insurgency was 10 years; withdrawal of state sponsorship cripples an insurgency and typically leads to its defeat (e.g. Greece, Sri Lanka and Angola); untimely termination of support for governments embroiled in a counter insurgency can be equally crippling (e.g. Vietnam, Afghanistan and Cuba); broad terror campaigns by insurgents correlated with insurgents defeat and most importantly sanctuary was vital for insurgencies. Mao Tse-Tung and Ho Chi Minh both estimated that once an insurgency gained the support of 15 to 25 percent of the population it essentially became invincible. On the other hand, limited US strategic patience in an endemic problem for counter insurgency operations. Sanctuaries, being one of the most important parameter, are studied first and the analysis shows that insurgents who have enjoyed sanctuaries (including internal sanctuaries) have won almost half the conflicts. Without sanctuaries insurgents only have a 14 percent chance of winning. No sanctuaries Involuntary sanctuaries Voluntary sanctuaries Govt wins 13 3 12 Mixed 5 4 10 Govt losses 3 3 20 Ongoing 8 4 4 Afghanistan is presented as a case in which the Taliban rely on strong grassroots support from a Pashtun community that feels alienation from both the Afghan and Pakistan government. A case, therefore, of the internal sanctuary being more important than the external ones .The Afghan Taliban has learnt to be more discriminate in its use of terror (unlike the Pakistan Taliban). The Taliban is fighting autocracy/democracy represented by the Afghan government giving them a historical advantage of 6:1. The Taliban is operating in one of the most impoverished rural areas in the world giving them a 2:1 advantage. Outside intervention in favour of governments has had mixed results with the governments losing in Vietnam and Yemen, while winning in Columbia. On the other hand, outside intervention is crucial for insurgents if they are to succeed. This includes provision of money, safe havens, diplomatic backing, arms, training and direct military support (Soviet Union and China in Vietnam and the international community in Afghanistan opposing the Soviets). State Support Non-state support No support Government wins 11 5 12 Mixed Outcome 12 3 4 Government loses 21 4 1 Ongoing 8 3 5 Urbanisation was found to be an important parameter and in countries with less than 40 percent urbanisation the government lost 75 percent of the time. Countries heavily populated by an impoverished rural peasantry have provided a ripe ground for insurgents. Insurgents use of terrorism against civilians was discovered to be counter productive (e.g. Malaya and Peru). The longer the insurgents employed indiscriminate terror the more likely it seemed the population would turn against the insurgency and the insurgency would end quickly. The system of government also played an important role and pseudo democracies had a particularly poor record at countering insurgencies, averaging a 15 percent success ratio. This finding verifies the idea that insurgencies do not entirely end unless the government has addressed the root causes of the conflict (e.g. Afghanistan). The authors have identified four ways in which pseudo democracies end: ? No effort to change behaviour and typically loses e.g. South Africa. This was the worst way to proceed since it does not address the central complaints that inspired the insurgency and focuses on the use of ruthless repressive tactics that have proven temporarily effective in stifling some insurgencies. ? Fails to decolonise and is defeated e.g. South Vietnam. ? Successfully democratises or recognises minority rights and is able to realise a favourable ending e.g. Northern Ireland. This was the best a pseudo democracy could hope for through a negotiated settlement that resulted in power sharing. ? Slips into an autocracy e.g. Algeria. Defeating an insurgent military cadre requires either total elimination of its leadership and infrastructure or co-option. Co-option has proved to be the better of the two options and co-opted insurgents lend legitimacy to the political process. Victory is achieved when the populace consents to the governments legitimacy and stops actively or passively supporting the insurgents. This is achieved by the government addressing the causes of insurgencies through stability operations. This involves serving and controlling the local population and providing for essential services and reconstruction projects. Force ratios are introduced with a great deal of caution but the winning ratios were 10 security forces to one insurgent (France in Algeria) and 20:1 (UK in Malaya). The Algerian experience, however, clearly shows that force alone cannot win a counter insurgency in the absence of social and political rapprochement. More important was the ratio of security forces personnel to 1000 civilians and the minimum winning ratio was 20:1000. In Afghanistan both under the Soviets and the US it was at 0.5 per 1000 population. Governments defeated themselves more often than they were defeated by a dominant insurgency. The main reasons for this were: ? Ignoring the insurgency until it developed into a credible threat. ? Failure to address root causes. ? Failure to extend credible control into rural areas. ? Become dependent on a fickle sponsor. Military superiority and battlefield advantage became fruitless if not counter productive in protracted counter insurgency campaigns. Governments gave way to insurgencies under the weight of their own corruption, weakness and incompetence over the general failure to address the simple tenets of security and good governance. There were no counter insurgency shortcuts and lasting winning endings are shaped not by military action but by social, economic and political change. At their core insurgencies are battles for public support. The writer is a former ambassador.