10 years ago
From the Strategy Page:
July 30, 2006: One major reason for the increased Taliban this year was the wholesale replacement of a lot of Taliban field commanders last Fall. With new money coming in last year (from drug gangs and rich fans of Islamic radicalism), there were also calls for some more energetic leadership in the field. At that point, the pre-2001 Taliban leadership was still calling most of the shots, and they had not done very well over the last four years. So it was agreed, that the time had come to let the younger guys, with new ideas and new energy, to take over.The new crew certainly shook things up. More than three times as many Taliban were killed in action this year, and even more were captured, compared to last year. But the new Taliban activity has had an impact. Over 200,000 children have been shut out of school. The Taliban does not approve of non-religious schools, or schools that teach girls. Dozens of government officials (including school teachers) have been murdered, and many more threatened. Relief supplies, for drought victims, were blocked (because they were provided by infidels). Same deal with many reconstruction projects.But the energetic new leaders have failed in one important area; popularity. Afghans don’t like being terrorized, or their kids driven from school, or relief supplies held up. It’s going to be a long, cold Winter.
At the risk of sounding skeptical, it might not be that there is a resurgence of the Taliban. Rather, it might be that there is more action than in previous months because of this new leadership. But getting people captured and killed is not the mark of good leadership. From Afghan News:
U.S.-led coalition forces and Afghan police killed 20 suspected Taliban in the latest fighting to hit southern Afghanistan, as NATO on Sunday prepared to take command in the insurgency-wracked region.
Afghan forces also killed six militants in southeastern Paktika province, an Afghan official said.
On Monday, the U.S. anti-terror coalition is to formally hand over control of security operations to a NATO-led force that has deployed about 8,000 mostly British, Canadian and Dutch troops in the south.
The deployment has coincided with the deadliest upsurge in fighting since U.S.-backed forces ousted the Taliban regime in late 2001 for hosting Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
On a visit to Afghanistan on Sunday, French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said many Taliban fighters were crossing from Pakistan to stage attacks.
“We need real cooperation from Pakistan, but it seems very difficult for them. The border is a very difficult region and we ask Pakistan to make some more effort to control it,” she told reporters in Kabul.
Pakistan, a key U.S. ally in its war on terrorism, says it does all it can to patrol the porous Afghan border.
On Saturday, a joint force of coalition and Afghan troops killed 20 suspected Taliban militants who had attempted an ambush in Shahidi Hassas district of Uruzgan province, a coalition statement said. There were no casualties among coalition or Afghan forces.
Afghan soldiers and police killed six Taliban fighters and captured eight Sunday during a clash in southeastern Paktika province’s Waza Khwa district, said Said Jamal, spokesman for the provincial governor. No further details were available.
In Kandahar province, three militants blew themselves up Saturday as they laid an explosive on a road, said Daoud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the provincial governor. Another suspected Taliban died Sunday when a land mine he was planting north of Kandahar city exploded, Ahmadi said.
Taliban-led fighters have escalated roadside bombings and suicide attacks this year, and have also mounted brazen attacks on several small towns and district police stations — a tactic rarely seen in the previous four years.
International forces, backed by the Afghan army, have meted out a tough response.
Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi said a 50-day operation dubbed Mountain Thrust has resulted in the deaths of at least 613 suspected militants. Some 87 others were wounded and about 300 arrested, he said.
Azimi said between 13 and 16 civilians had also died.