While the Taliban have been successful with their human shield tactics, they have done so at great cost to the popularity of the Islamic radical group. The Taliban were never noted for their desire to be popular. These guys are on a mission from God, and earthly trifles do not concern them. While the frequent use of human shields has spared the Taliban some casualties, and sometimes made it easier to escape death or capture (mainly because the propaganda value of dead civilians has caused the rules of engagement for foreign troops to become more restrictive), the practice has increased Afghan hostility to the Taliban. This means that the Taliban increasingly find themselves operating in a hostile environment as they move through Afghanistan. This is made worse by the fact that many Taliban units are often half, or more, composed of foreigners. Many of these are Pakistanis, who at least look like Afghans (and only betray themselves when they speak, and reveal a foreign accent). But a growing number of foreigners are Arabs, who are generally disliked throughout Pakistan. This is because many Arabs look down on Afghans, and often do not try to hide this disdain. Moreover, Arabs are more eager to carry out suicide bomb attacks that kill lots of civilians. Afghans see these Arabs as bringing the terror tactics that failed in Iraq, to Afghanistan. These tactics kill lots more civilians than foreign or Afghan soldiers, and most Afghans want no part of it. Afghans have also noticed that a lot of the violence in their country consists of foreigners fighting foreigners, and killing any Afghans who happen to be nearby.
Taking advantage of the declining popularity of the Taliban, the U.S. has implemented a rehabilitation program for captured Taliban. First, the hard core (beyond rehab) Taliban are separated out and isolated. Those deemed capable of rehabilitation are given religious instruction by mainstream clerics, and job training. The religious instruction is the most important aspect of all this, as most of the Taliban are uneducated country boys who got sold an attractive, but false, religious doctrine by Taliban recruiters. Many of the captured Taliban were only in it for the money, but some did buy into the "Mission From God" angle. The U.S. first developed this segregate and rehabilitate program during World War II, when they found fanatic Nazi German POWs were intimidating and organizing less dedicated (to the Nazi cause) POWs into violent acts and misbehavior in general.
The Taliban have been calling for foreign Islamic radicals to come to Afghanistan and help out. These men will fight for free, and the Taliban does not have enough cash to hire as many gunmen as it would like to have. Meanwhile, some al Qaeda operatives are leaving, mainly because of the growing civilian hostility to Islamic terrorism, and the increasing activity of Afghan and foreign troops.
June 18, 2009: Afghan troops arrested Taliban leader (Mullah Shah Mohammad) in Farah province (next to Taliban heartland Helmand province). Also captured was documents, opium and a large cache of weapons.
June 15, 2009: Interrogations of captured Taliban indicate that the terrorist group is under orders to generate maximum violence this Summer, and try to make a mess of the presidential elections (with its 40 candidates). While there has been an increase in violence, most of the victims have been Taliban. For example, in the last week, over 250 died (48 civilians, 30 policemen and 176 Taliban, plus about a dozen Afghan and foreign soldiers), and the pattern of deaths was pretty much the same as it's always been. The Taliban go out of their way to anger local civilians. For example, this year they are more intent on trying to impose lifestyle rules. Thus when the Taliban come across a wedding, they will beat up the musicians (in one case they left them tied to trees overnight), and otherwise spoil a good time. Under the Taliban view of Islam, music and movies are not allowed, and Taliban will search homes and destroy any tapes, CDs or DVDs they find. Parents who send their daughters to school will be beaten, and the schools burned down, and teachers murdered.
June 14, 2009: Police arrested two al Jazeera producers who had filmed an interview with a Taliban leader, which was recently broadcast worldwide. The two men were later released, with a warning to stop making propaganda for the Taliban.