Afghanistan: Blinded By The Light

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June 21, 2007: The Taliban Spring Offensive didn't happen, and the Taliban took a beating from NATO and U.S. attacks. The Taliban persisted in trying to use platoon size (30-50 gunmen) units, which regularly were spotted by UAVs and blasted by smart bombs. In response to this, the Taliban are cooperating more with al Qaeda terror attacks. These are more successful, but will not win Taliban back control of the country. In fact, as demonstrated in Iraq and elsewhere, al Qaeda terrorism just make the terrorists more unpopular with the population they are trying to intimidate and conquer. Al Qaeda leaders have not yet come to grips with this reality. To the al Qaeda brass, if the mass media and pundits say they are on a roll and making "progress," then it must be so. Getting mesmerized by media attention has never been a war winning strategy.

June 20, 2007: The Afghan army carried out its first solo operations. About 1,400 Afghan troops completed a three week operation in southern Afghanistan, to clear out Taliban fighters and restore government control to remote villages. Since 2001, Afghan army troops have operated in joint task forces with U.S. or NATO troops.

June 18, 2007: The Taliban leadership is taking a beating in Afghanistan, with dozens of mid-level leaders killed or captured so far this year, and half a dozen senior guys put our of action as well. This has caused some heated discussion among the Taliban leadership. The lack of success is hurting fund raising. With enough cash, the Taliban can keep their rebellion going indefinitely. As the poorest country in Asia, there are always some young men desperate enough to make a few hundred bucks, that they will sign up for some Taliban suicide mission. But without millions of dollars in cash each year, the Taliban is reduced to sending out press releases and threats via the Internet. Already, the Taliban is being accused of inventing some of the combat operations it has taken credit for. The Taliban is in danger of losing some major sponsors this year, but they still have the drug gangs. However, the drug lords can hire their own muscle, and don't need a middleman like the Taliban, unless the Taliban is strong enough to make the drug kingpins an offer they can't refuse.

June 17, 2007: Terrorists bombed a bus carrying police personnel in Kabul. At least 25 died and about three dozen were wounded. Afghan security forces have lost over 300 dead so far this year.

June 16, 2007: The poppy plant harvest is over, and the Taliban are trying to recruit farmers to go out and fight NATO and American troops. Last year, several thousand farmers were recruited for this sort of thing, and many, if not most, of them were killed or injured during the "Summer Offensive." Apparently memories are long and Taliban recruiters are having a hard time, even when more money is offered. The farmers can do the math. What's the point of more pay, if you don't live to spend it.

June 15, 2007: The Taliban use of civilians as human shields is paying off. Even though civilians killed by NATO, in those situations, has declined since the beginning of the year, every incident is played up by the mass media, and brings with it more calls for NATO forces to respect the Taliban use of human shields. In effect, to allow the Taliban to get protect themselves from NATO attack if some civilians can be found to use as shields. No one will come out and say it quite like that, but that's what it amounts to.

 

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