New Taliban Commanders Get Results
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.