The guerrilla forces in Afghanistan had launched new attacks on NATO and Afghanistan National Army targets in the past few days, after weeks in which they were busy making sure to get their cut of the profits from the poppy-based heroin trade. The return to the battlefield is an annual late spring and summer ritual for those Pashtun groups and tribes that reject the presence in their country of foreign troops and oppose the government of Hamid Karzai.
At the same time, Taliban commanders vocally announced their planned offensive, probably to divert the spotlight from President Hamid Karzai’s trip to the United States. That visit is said to involve attempts at reconciliation between Obama and Karzai, after a year in which Washington had made it clear it hoped Karzai would lose the presidential election, and during which a sulky Karzai (having stolen the election fair and square) kept saying alarming and erratic things about joining up with the Taliban if the Americans pressured him too much.
Among the disputes between Washington and Kabul are Karzai’s attempts to negotiate directly with guerrilla leaders, whom the US inaccurately generalizes as “Taliban” (many are former US allies from the 1980s and not Taliban at all). Washington would prefer that these forces not be brought into any future Afghanistan government. Most Afghans themselves, including professional women, seem to favor talks with the Taliban and other guerrilla groups.
Negotiations are certain to be part of the mix in any attempt to resolve the crisis. The military situation is getting worse. There were 400 attacks in the past week in Afghanistan, 60 percent of them by roadside bomb There were over 1,000 roadside bomb attacks in April 2010, twice as many as in April 2009.
This number of attacks per day, some 57, about 34 of them roadside bombs, is breathtaking. That level of violence is what characterized Iraq in March, 2005, before the Sunni-Shiite civil war. The year 2005 was a bloody year in Iraq, and nobody but then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld doubted we were mired in a vicious guerrilla war.
Among the other signs of increasing violence : The attack on Wednesday by suicide bombers on provincial government buildings and offices in Naranj, the capital of Nimroz Province in the southwest of the country. Among those they targeted for killing was female provincial council member and poet Gul Makai Wakili, a women’s rights activist in Naranj. Two policemen and one other were killed before government forces could cut down the 6 attackers.