Afghanistan: Desperate Taliban Changes Strategy

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May 21, 2007: Another Taliban ambush backfired, resulting in at least 25 dead Taliban. NATO and U.S. aerial surveillance, and a growing network of informants, puts the Taliban at an enormous information disadvantage. When the shooting starts, the Taliban have only vague idea of who is where, while their opponents are getting live overhead video of the action. That, plus smart bombs and better trained troops, usually results in a very lopsided outcome. As a result of this, the Taliban now says it is getting out of the countryside and moving the war to the urban areas. This would appear suicidal, because the Taliban has far more support in the countryside than they do in the towns and cities. But with Pakistan and Iran forcing the remaining four million Afghan refugees to return home, it is believed that many of these people will settle in the cities. These refugees were the original source of Taliban recruits, and continued to be very pro-Taliban. Moreover, the Taliban believe they will be safer in the cities, carrying out a terrorist campaign. The Taliban appear to be ignoring what's going on in Iraq. There, the terrorist bombers are hated by the population, and most of the Iraqi Sunni Arab population that supports the terrorists, have been driven out of the country. Trying to move the war to the cities is a desperate measure, and one that will only make the Taliban weaker. It's bad news for the many future victims of Taliban suicide bombers, but good news in that it is a sign that the Taliban is losing and desperate for something that will save them.

May 20, 2007: Someone fired rockets at fuel trucks preparing to cross the Pakistani border. Several trucks were destroyed. Moving this fuel is big business, and involves big payoffs to warlords and tribal chiefs to insure safe passage. It's believed that recent attacks on trucks are not Taliban related, but the result of disputes over who can haul fuel, and at what cost.

May 19, 2007: Three German soldiers, and six Afghan civilians, were killed by a suicide bomber in the northern town of Kunduz. The Taliban have been trying to kill German soldiers, knowing that many German politicians want to withdraw German soldiers from Afghanistan, and have so far blocked German soldiers from participating in combat. So far this year, sixty foreign soldiers have been killed. That's about four times the murder rate of Washington, DC.

May 18, 2007: In another example of how disadvantaged the Taliban is on the battlefield, a large Taliban ambush force had the tables turned on them near the Pakistan border. Nearly 70 were killed in the subsequent fighting.

May 17, 2007: There continues to be gunfire between Afghan and Pakistani border guards, who are feuding over where the border should be. Afghans assert that the Pakistanis moved their border posts during the 1980s, while everyone was distracted fighting the Russian invaders. Pakistan refuses to call in surveyors to check the location of border posts. U.S. officials have quietly urged the Pakistanis to do the survey, because American satellite survey photos make it clear that the Pakistani border posts are often many kilometers inside what should be Afghan controlled territory. Pakistan does not want to move the border posts because it would anger some of the Pushtun tribes on their side of the border, who would lose control of some territory.

May 16, 2007: Three of the Taliban freed two months, in exchange for a kidnapped Italian journalist, were killed alongside Taliban Mullah Dadullah last weekend. One of them was also Dadullahs brother. The government also thanks unnamed Afghans who had passed on information about Dadullahs movements. The Taliban have been arresting "traitors" on both sides of the border, and killing some of them. It appears that some innocents have died as a result.

May 15, 2007: At least ten percent (36 Afghans) freed from Guantanamo have turned out to be Taliban, and rejoined the fight. Two have been killed and another captured. So far, 340 detainees have been freed from Guantanamo, nearly all of them were captured in Afghanistan.

 

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