Afghanistan: Taliban Preparations Thwarted


January19, 2007: Pointing out that Taliban activity out of Pakistan has tripled since September, when Pakistan called off its troops and made a deal with pro-Taliban tribal chiefs, the U.S. is putting enormous, and quite public, pressure on Pakistan to do something about the situation. This pleases Afghanistan, which was not happy with the previous American "quiet diplomacy" approach. The Pakistanis have reacted by arresting 400 people suspected of being Taliban supporters. The U.S. has been giving Pakistan lists with names and locations. There may be very few U.S. troops in Pakistan, but there's a lot of intelligence collecting activity. The U.S. has an informant network in Pakistan, and lots of overflights to take photos and collect electronic data.

January 1 8, 2007: A Taliban death squad made another attack on a provincial governor (of Paktika in the southeast). Using a suicide bomber, a soldier was killed, but the governor was unharmed. Assassination is an ancient political tool in Afghanistan.

American commanders are asking for another combat brigade which, along with more effective Afghan army units, they believe would provide an opportunity to smash the Taliban even more successfully this year. That, plus Pakistan applying some real pressure on Taliban bases across the border, might be a decisive blow.

January 17, 2007: Afghan troops found a major Taliban ammo dump near the Pakistani border. Not only that, but it was a mobile supply operation, for it consisted of 40 pickup trucks, all loaded with weapons and ammo, hidden in caves. Most had been placed there quite recently. In Helmland, a senior Taliban combat commander was also captured by British commandos, but his name was not released.

January 16, 2007: One of the chief Taliban spokesmen, Muhammad Hanif, was captured in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban depend on media savvy guys like this to get their message out and play the media, mainly the Western media. Losing Hanif will hurt, as he was very effective.

January 15, 2007: Noting the many Taliban movements, even in Winter, U.S. commanders fear that the Taliban are going to try, once more, to take Kandahar (the traditional Taliban "capital") in the Spring. Other NATO commanders disagree, pointing out that the Taliban took a major beating when they tried this last year, and give no indication of having learned anything, or changed their tactics. The Americans are more suspicious, and are hustling to try and find out of the Taliban have, indeed, come up with any surprises.

January 14, 2007: U.S. commanders went public with details of the 150 Taliban NATO forces killed near the Pakistani border last week. The dead Taliban had recently been recruited in Pakistan and, quite obviously, were caught as they tried to sneak across the border. This kind of talk is playing hardball with Pakistan, which insists that most of the Taliban are from Afghanistan.

January 13, 2007: One of the little mentioned problems between Afghanistan and Pakistan is that neither country agrees on where their borders are. The current border was a "temporary" compromise, established in 1893, and is called the "Durand Line." Pakistan likes the border the way it is, but Afghans have always insisted it is farther east, and includes the Pakistani cities of Peshawar and Quetta.

Another 30 Taliban were killed, and some 20 wounded, when they clashed with British troops in southern Afghanistan. One soldier was killed.




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