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Prof. Dr. Mehmet Nesip Ogun is Rector

The University of Mediterranean Karpasia in Cyprus
Professor of International Relations and Political Science
with focus of Security and Terrorism Studies.  



Mehmet Nesip Ogun

Throughout NATO’s existence, the first and only invocation of the “Article-5 Collective Defense” clause was originated by a terrorist attack. After the infamous 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, a US-led multinational military campaign -Operation Enduring Freedom- began in October 2001. The aim of the operation was to find Osama bin Laden and other high-ranking Al Qaeda members to put them on trial, to destroy the whole Al Qaeda organization, and to remove the Taliban regime which supported and gave safe harbor to Al Qaeda. Nevertheless, Osama bin Laden was killed on 02 May 2011 and some of the members were captured dead or alive by United States and coalition forces. During this operation, the Taliban regime collapsed and Al Qaeda was heavily damaged. On 5 December 2001 at a meeting convened in Bonn, Germany, UN officials came together with Afghan leaders and members of the international community to discuss the country’s future. At the Bonn Agreement it was decided that national security forces would be established and trained with the international help. UN Security Council Resolution 1386 provided for the creation of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and its deployment to Kabul and the surrounding area on 20 December 2001. Hence, the Security Council determined that the situation in Afghanistan constituted a threat to international peace and security.

On 12 January 2002, ISAF began to function and became fully operational on 18 February 2002. NATO’s primary objective in Afghanistan was “to enable the Afghan authorities to provide effective security across the country and ensure that the country can never again be a safe haven for terrorists”. Within this regard, international community wanted to achieve establishment of a secure environment, to assist in building sustainable and functional government, and to support the reconstruction and development process. However, there was a set of obstacles in Afghanistan delaying the efforts of the international community. This paper will analyze international community’s efforts and difficulties that they faced in Afghanistan.

The lack of a well-functioning central government, its distance from Europe and the increasing insurgent attacks that interfere with aid activities were the leading ones. It should never be forgotten that without a stable political environment and viable economy, Afghanistan cannot exist in today’s security environment (we are witnessing it today). It has proved us that without creating a modest level of security it is impossible to achieve diplomatic and economic objectives.

ISAF conducted a population centric counter-insurgency (COIN) strategy in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and provided support to the government as well as the international community in security sector reform, including mentoring, training and operational support to the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP). Taliban’s taking over the whole country showed international community that ANSF was very weak and wasn’t ready to protect its citizens and the government.

Some member states which committed forces to the ISAF often imposed “national caveat” restrictionson the tasks those forces may undertake. These national restrictions generally prohibit the forces from engaging in combat operations. Furthermore, some governments did not permit their forces to be transferred to the southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan. These caveats were the biggest obstacles for force leaders who tried to operate flexibly with the forces under their command.

Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) was one of the weakest governments in the world. It was troubled by pervasive corruption and lack of appropriate leadership and human capital. Afghan ministries lacked resources and were all too often permeated by corruption, entrenched bureaucracy and weak leadership. Afghanistan’s recent history was full of terror, violence and turmoil. Therefore, it was very normal for the people to feel insecure and doubting the individuals and groups which were in charge in the government. In order to achieve political goals, it was very important to gain trust of the Afghan people.  Because of the deficiencies in the ANP, the Afghan government was unable to ensure security and justice throughout the country. This resulted in a weakness in the legitimate use of force within the country. Another, and maybe one of the most important, action that weakened the Afghan state in establishing law and order was the significant assistance to local warlords provided by the coalition forces.

Tribal conflicts were also  the other impediment to the unity in Afghanistan. The wars in Afghanistan’s history caused shifts in the ethnic power balance and from time to time the Pashtun majority was challenged by the assertiveness of the minorities. However, the Taliban’s arrival led to a violent re-balancing of power back in favor of the Pashtuns.

The cultivation of poppy was another issue that undermined security. On the one hand, insurgency groups, warlords and criminal organizations surely benefited from the drug trade in Afghanistan. On the other hand, poppy cultivation was the main income source for the farmers in Afghanistan. Hamid Kharzai has underlined that the opium trade was just like a cancer that was even more hazardous than terrorism. The opium business was a widespread phenomenon that previously involved the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. Afghanistan provides most of the heroin (75%) in the global market and a huge amount of this heroin (95%) pours into the European market. Unfortunately, coalition forces in Afghanistan seemed to be slow in comprehending the implications of illicit drugs and their distribution within the country.

The Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) were the main organizational instrument for the ISAF’s contributions to the stabilization and development of Afghanistan. ISAF, through its PRTs, helped the Afghan authorities strengthen the institutions required for full establishment of good governance and rule of law, and to promote human rights. However, ISAF-sponsored reconstruction was largely disconnected from other efforts and most PRTs have failed to engage in a meaningful way with civilian relief organizations.

Two separate systems of education exist in Afghanistan. The older system is a religious one, taught by the mullahs, who conduct schools (madrassas) in the village mosques. They teach the religious precepts of the Koran. The other system was introduced in Afghanistan's 1964 constitution and provided for free and compulsory education at all levels. When Taliban took over control in 1996, the madrassas became the main source of primary and secondary education, with education being banned for girls. After the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, the interim government received substantial international aid to restore the education system. The education system in Afghanistan, particularly for women and girls, requires a great deal of assistance if schools are expected to function as needed. With the Taliban’s take over the country, international community will see what Taliban is going to do in terms of education system.

In conclusion, security, governance, reconstruction and regional dynamics in Afghanistan carried challenging obstacles to the success of the NATO’s first out-of-Europe mission, which seemed to be a tool for the U.S. and the international community to stabilize the environment in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, this whole operation showed us that the mission was not successful.



Prof.Dr. Mehmet Nesip Ogun is Rector (President) at The University of Mediterranean Karpasia in Cyprus and Professor of International Relations and Political Science with focus of Security and Terrorism Studies.

He was a visiting scholar at Columbia University in New York in 2016-2017. He held the position of the Dean of the Faculty of Political Science at Girne American University in Cyprus in 2015-2016.

His doctoral dissertation examined terrorists’ use of the Internet. His research focused on the exploitation of Internet by terrorist organizations for their activities, terrorism in general, and propaganda was studied and some solutions were proposed. In addition, social network analysis was used to cover and identify the linkages of terrorist websites along with their contexts affiliated with terrorist purposes. 

During his career, He has been fortunate enough to also serve as a lecturer at North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Training Centers. He has also contributed to NATO’s Afghanistan and Kosovo Mission. Concurrently, he has taught at several universities and institutions as an adjunct professor. He carried out PhD research at Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, International Center for Terrorism Studies with Prof. Yonah Alexander.

He was also awarded a grant from NATO Emerging Security Challenges Division 68,000 Euro grant to conduct a NATO advanced training course in Macedonia on Terrorists’ Use of Cyberspace. He has edited the lecture presentations from that program in a book that was published by NATO IOS Press, Terrorist Use of Cyberspace and Cyber Terrorism: New Challenges and Responses.

He has organized and conducted a NATO Lessons Learned Workshop on NATO’s Counterterrorism and Counterinsurgency Experience in Afghanistan in November 2014. He has edited the proceedings of the workshop and NATO has published it on October 2015. 

He has extensively published books and articles on International Relations and Security Studies.