Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Pssst! The Taliban Are Back...

I don't know if I said anything about it here at the time, but the American decision to bring the Taliban and Islamist extremists into the Afghan government seems to have been a mistake. I remember thinking early on they'd play an inside/outside game to recapture as much power as possible, if given a chance(wouldn't you?). Completely crushing them, driving all of them into exile if necessary, seemed a better option than co-optation. And unfortunately it looks like the Taliban are doing just what was expected of them, taking advantage of American weakness and the proffered hand of friendship to stick it to the Yankees and call for "Death to America!" (Hint to President Bush: people who say things like that cannot be our friends, and those who fight them ought not to be our enemies). From The Guardian:
While Iraq continues to dominate the headlines, an upsurge of fighting in southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban drew its traditional support, is worrying western politicians.

Today saw riots break out in Kabul after a fatal accident involving a US convoy. Protesters shouted slogans against Harmid Karzai, the Afghan president, and the US, and the unrest left at least seven people dead and 40 injured.

Meanwhile in the south, around 50 people, reported to be Taliban fighters and leaders were killed in a US air raid - some reports say on a mosque - after they attacked a convoy.

The latest casualties bring the number of deaths in Afghanistan to over 370 in recent in the last two weeks - comparable to the number of deaths in Iraq over the same period - in some of the heaviest fighting since the fall of the Taliban after the September 11 2001 attacks on the US.

Reports in the Pakistani press say several southern provinces including Uruzgan, Kandahar and Helmand - where 3,300 British troops are being deployed - are slipping out of control as the Taliban have taken the fight to western forces.

US and Nato forces have responded in kind, resulting in the rising level of casualties.

The Taliban's goal is that of any guerrilla force - to convey the impression that the central government and its backers cannot protect the local populace, so chipping away at its authority and credibility.

Now the warm weather has arrived in Afghanistan, western forces will have to endure more attacks from a reinvigorated and emboldened Taliban.