The Taliban appear to have 20-30
percent more gunmen in operation this year, largely because of greater earning
from the drug business. They have adopted new tactics that emphasize operating
in smaller groups, and trying to avoid the foreign aircraft and UAVs that
appear to be everywhere. This year, the Taliban are leaving attacks on foreign
troops up to terrorists (al Qaeda and Taliban). However, only about four
percent of the victims of these attacks are foreign troops. Some 80 percent are
Afghan civilians, and the rest Afghan police and soldiers. So far this year,
5,100 people have died in Taliban related violence. Most of the dead were
Taliban or al Qaeda, killed by foreign and Afghan forces..
concentrate on trying to control the population around drug producing areas,
and along the smuggling routes the gangs use to get the stuff out. All this
work for the drug gangs brings in enough money so the Taliban can pay their
gunmen twice what the soldiers or police get. Taliban commanders get paid more
than police and army commanders, and there's plenty of money available to bribe
government and military officials. The drug gangs back the Taliban because the
Islamic zealots distract the police and army from disrupting drug operations.
The drug lords don't think that the Taliban have much chance of regaining
control of the entire country. All Afghans remember how widely reviled the
Taliban were in the years before they were overthrown in late 2001. But if the
Taliban should regain power, the pre-2001 deal with the drug gangs will be
revived. That is, the Taliban will tax the drug trade while telling the world
that they have banned it. To the drug gangs, the current government is much too
dangerous. Although many senior members of the government have been bought,
most are hostile to the heroin trade, and willing to work with NATO and the U.S.
to attack the drug business. So the Taliban get paid and played by the drug
gangs, who have a more certain future than their religious allies.
are trying to mitigate the NATO and U.S. use of smart bombs by staying among
civilians as much as possible. That sometimes causes the foreign troops to
withhold fire, and if the attack is made anyway, the dead women and children
can be used to generate effective propaganda against the foreigners.
in the government has crippled many of the reconstruction projects, and
commerce in general. This has angered many Afghans, and helped the Taliban. The
drug gangs spread a lot of their money around, and the Taliban like to abuse or
kill government officials in general (no matter if they are corrupt or clean.) Afghanistan
was never a united country in the Western sense, but rather a coalition of tribes
with a figurehead "king" in Kabul to deal with the foreigners. To
most Afghans, this has not changed.
2008: In the last two days, Afghan
soldiers and police killed over 60 Taliban outside Kabul. The Afghans were
assisted by foreign aircraft and troops.
2008: The Taliban tried to stop two
buses travelling outside Kandahar. One bus managed to keep going. The Taliban stopped
the other and examined the ID documents of the fifty passengers, and killed 30
of them. The Taliban said the dead men were soldiers or police. But the army
said it only moves its men around by armed convoys in this area. At least one
child was among the dead.
2008: Police and foreign troops continued
to locate and kill Taliban operating around the capital of Helmand province. Several
dozen more were killed in the last two days. Some were captured as well. The
Taliban force, which (based on an examination of the many dead and captured)
has a lot of Arabs and Pakistanis with them. The Taliban appear to be
protecting drug operations. The drug gangs fear that the newly announced NATO
and American plans to go after drug operations, is about to begin.
2008: Over the weekend, several hundred
Taliban were detected gathering outside the capital of Helmand province. NATO
warplanes and ground forces went after the Taliban and killed over a hundred of
them. It's unusual for the Taliban to concentrate that many fighters in one
place, as they are easily spotted by NATO and U.S. aircraft, and quickly attacked
by smart bombs, and infantry flown in on helicopters. But because this
operation was just outside the provincial capital, Afghan and British troops
were able to quickly get to the battle via roads.
2008: In southern Helmand, a gathering
of Taliban leaders was attacked, after being observed for several days. At
least four Taliban leaders, and over sixty gunmen, were killed.