May 14, 2011:
In Afghanistan, the Taliban have shifted their main effort from roadside bombs to suicide bombers. This is another way of admitting they are losing. In the last few months, NATO troops have been discovering over 70 percent of the roadside bombs planted in their way. Using tanks and MRAPs, the mines and bombs that do go off are causing fewer troop casualties. But the civilians are not so fortunate, which has led to more tips from civilians about who is building and placing the bombs, and where the bombs are being built. With so many bomb builders dead or arrested, and their workshops destroyed, the roadside bomb campaign is seen as a waste of effort. This is especially true because the growing military pressure on the heroin gangs has reduced the amount of cash the Taliban can obtain for "protecting" the gang operations (growing poppies, which produce opium, and then turning that into heroin in crude chemical labs, and then smuggling the heroin out of the country.
The Taliban have had some success lately. Bribing prison guards and getting nearly 500 captured Taliban out was an accomplishment. This replenished the ranks of bomb builders and planters, but many of those who escaped, it was later discovered, just quit the terrorism business. Several days of attacks in Kandahar, where the prison break occurred, failed to deliver a Taliban victory, but did get a lot more Taliban killed. The recent death of Osama bin Laden was supposed to create a lot of Taliban support, but it didn't.
Viewed from the other side, it's not shaping up as a very good year for the Taliban, but they will go down proclaiming otherwise.