Taliban influence Spreading in Afghanistan

A former Afghan warlord who turned to supporting President Hamid Karzai and two others were blown up at a soccer match in the northern city of Qunduz by Taliban.

A bus full of civilians on its way between Helmand and Qandahar provinces in the Pashtun south hit a roadside bomb, which killed 6 and wounded 9 of the passengers. The Taliban presumably set the device for a NATO or Afghan National Army convoy, but the poor bus passengers got hit instead. The Taliban are responsible for 61% of the civilian casualties in the past six months and more in the past month.

Kunduz is only 1/3 Pashtun, the ethnic group from which the Taliban spring (though most Pashtuns oppose the Taliban). But they are using guerrilla tactics to even the playing field. The US is now putting troops into Kunduz, formerly a mainly German zone, since the Germans only signed on for peace-keeping, not for counter-insurgency.

Aljazeera English reports that the eastern Pashtun city of Jalalabad is facing increasing Talibanization, affecting storekeeper’s playing of music, video stores’ business, and even ring tones.

Virtually everywhere you look, then, Taliban influence is rising and spreading. One has to ask why the influence of the Afghan government isn’t doing the same, and more effectively. Karzai had enormous advantages over the Taliban, including massive aid donations, US backing for his armed forces, and the unpopularity of the Taliban with the Afghan people. by now, Karzai appears to have frittered away those advantages….

19 Responses

  1. Those massive aid donations were stolen from private savings held by citizens of Nato nations and Japan. No government has savings of its own to give away. Karzai’s government’s only following the lesson of theft that donor nations are teaching.

  2. “The Taliban are responsible for 61% of the civilian casualties in the past six months and more in the past month.”
    Afghans are justifiably angry about civilian casualties accidentally caused by the Western military. What is their reaction to civilian casualties caused by the Taliban, who obviously have zero concern for who is affected by their attacks?

    • If that means the US and NATO forces are responsible for the other 39% it hardly speaks well for our technological superiority or the notion that we’re supposedly there to protect Afghans.

      • Chris, the terminology is pro GIRoA forces [combined ANP + ISAF + ANA]. The largest cause of pro GIRoA civilian casualties is traffic accidents. Why did McChrystal make improved ANSF/ISAF such a huge issue in June, 2009? Because poor driving was causing so much anger among Afghan civilians.

        A substantial percentage of civilian casualties are caused by organized crime, ordinary crime, or by unknown causes.

        While the vast majority of civilian casualties are caused by the Taliban, some Taliban try to avoid civilian casualties. Specific Taliban groups cause disproportionate civilian casualties. There are more than 50 major Taliban groups. They are not all the same.

  3. I have a question. . .

    “The Taliban are responsible for 61% of the civilian casualties in the past six months and more in the past month.”

    But their support base doesn’t seem to be eroding accordingly.

    Why?

  4. “The Taliban are responsible for 61% of the civilian casualties in the past six months and more in the past month.”

    Given the new revelations from Wikileaks that the US has been actively concealing civilians casualties in Afghanistan (caused both by us and the Taliban) and given the shoddy US methods for distinguishing “civilian” from “insurgent”, and given that the US military refuses to publish comprehensive casualties figures, I would caution against believing these sort of claims (after all, the source for this claim comes straight from the ARM mid-year report). In my opinion, to publish the claim without linking to the source and without providing critical analysis is irresponsible. The US military is not known for being objective journalists.

    • Good questions, I agree with that : one shouldn’t quote any data without giving its source and US army data can’t be trusted.

  5. What’s up with the Saudi’s? I remembered yesterday that there was concern that if — in Iraq — the Sunni population was too harshly subjugated, suffered too much — the Saudi’s being Sunni might some how intervene — obviously that never happened. Once again, having the Saudi’s as an ally is apparently worthless.

    I was concerned that the “surge” in Afghanistan might inspire a corresponding migration of wannabe from Europe and Africa — a second coming, incarnation of the valiant mujahadeen who drove out infidels — then the soviets, now the americans — but I have heard nothing to indicate such as migration. The Saudi’s also supported the mujahadeen (I confess I’m uncertain of their relationship with or reaction to the ascendency of the Taliban).

    Are they sitting on their proverbial hands? As some “defender of the Sunni faith.” I wonder if this inaction, impotence will only further diminish their stature, increase the impression that they are “our” poodles in the eyes of their own disaffected youth. Apparently they refused to aide in Karzai-Taliban talks unless the Taliban “turns over” Bin Laden (Feb 2010 msnbc) when Karzai and King Abdullah met in London.

    Illness?

    • I am a sunni and i havent heard anyone telling us that Saudi Arabia will save the entire sunni world except MEMRI & other Mossad affiliates. If it was so, Syria with 90% Sunnis are ruled by Alawite Shii who are only 5% of the population & in Yemen its another Shii group called Zaydi which rules the majority of Sunnis. Since unlce sam had a problem with Saddam hussein who was a sunni ruling almost equal number of sunnis & shiites (Kurds are Sunnis FYI) you all know now that Iraq was ruled by “minority” sunni protected by Saudi Arabia. 2 Days back saudi king was dining with the Alawite shii thug of Syria. There are no impressions to be increased per se. King Faisal was the only King killed in Saudi Arabia and he was killed after blocking oil to the west for their support of Israel. History flows through the veins of Muslim world, Nothing is forgotten.

  6. The current quagmire involving a hundred thousand US troops in an already doomed enterprise was entered into eyes-wide-open by our brilliant president.

    Last fall President Obama conducted a review of the Afghanistan mess, based on an August 31 report from General McChrystal. The report included these statements:

    “Pakistan’s insurgency is clearly supported from Pakistan. Senior leaders of the major Afghan insurgent groups are based in Pakistan, are linked with al Qaeda and other violent extremist groups, and are reportedly aided by some elements of Pakistan’s ISI.” (p. 2-10)

    “Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan, including significant development efforts and financial investment. In addition, the current Afhan government is perceived by Islamabad to be pro-India.” P. 2-11)
    link to media.washingtonpost.com

    What did President Obama do upon receiving this information? First, he sent a letter to the president of Pakistan.

    News report: President Obama warned in a letter to Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari that the US would no longer put up with the contacts.

    Next President Obama announced a new (his second) Afghanistan strategy, “a new way forward”.

    Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan, December 1, 2009
    THE PRESIDENT: “Good evening. To the United States Corps of Cadets, to the men and women of our Armed Services, and to my fellow Americans: I want to speak to you tonight about our effort in Afghanistan — the nature of our commitment there, the scope of our interests, and the strategy that my administration will pursue to bring this war to a successful conclusion.

    “I insisted on a thorough review of our strategy. . .This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

    “We will meet these objectives in three ways. First, we will pursue a military strategy that will break the Taliban’s momentum and increase Afghanistan’s capacity over the next 18 months. . .

    “Second, we will work with our partners, the United Nations, and the Afghan people to pursue a more effective civilian strategy,. . .

    “Third, we will act with the full recognition that our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan. . .”(end of speech extract)

    The US has a continuing partnership with a country behind the killing of Americans!

    That speech was delivered in Eisenhower Hall Theater, United States Military Academy at West Point, West Point, New York, on December 1, 2009 to American young men and women some of whom are (or soon will be) in Afghanistan being exposed to death and injury by people aided by a country that Obama has partnered with, Pakistan, all the while Obama knowing that Pakistan was assisting fighters that are killing Americans.

    That has been confirmed by wikileaks and that’s treasonous.

    • You are offering many quotes, but why do you take Pakistan as if it was a unified actor ? There are many Pakistani, many different political parties and different regions ans tribes/people. I’m not going to whitewash Obama for escalating troups and war in Afghanistan, but simplifying things like that is a disservice to any objective analysis.

      • “Objective analysis,” in this kind of context, is a complete myth. Use of objective-sounding terminology and diction just conceals the viscera and wealth transfers and ego-drives and what are so kindly called “personal agendas” and all the other stuff that make up the stupid game of RISK! by which our geopolitical whiz kids and militarists are pissing away our wealth and future.

        Want just one tiny example of “objective analysis?” Take a peek at this little link, and bear in mind that we taxpayers paid a British outfit several million dollars to produce the PowerPoint slide in question, to which they have the temerity to claim COPYRIGHT. More important, if you can zoom in to the detail, is that it should be perfectly obvious that there is no way to “objectively analyze the situation.” Starting with the old fundamental thing about having to have a recognizable objective in the first instance. You might as well try to “objectively analyze” the Krebs/citric acid cycle. It just IS, and all you can do is try to keep a few of the working parts in mind at any one time.

        “War” is, as Gen. Smedley Butler put it, A RACKET. A notion wonderfully skewered in the fiction realm by Joseph Heller in “Catch-22″ and others who are not taken in by the Patriot Games that activate the reactive, stupid parts of all our brains, in the areas collectively known as the “limbic system.” Where Sex, Fear, Anger, Aggression, Pleasure and a lot of other strong emotions gather for the orgy of Feeling and Acting that makes a mockery of pretensions to Objective analysis. This war, “justified” this week by the Pity The Women And Children motif, is no exception. Where in the “objective analysis” do you put the total of human net miseries, and where the hundreds of billions of dollars that have simply disappeared into the baksheesh-and-hash-enhanced “fog of war”? Or the Wonder of Military Genius that had “us” giving Saddam and sundry warlords and mullahs lots of 155 and 105-mm artillery shells, which convert so very nicely to “roadside bombs,” and even in Iraq where “we” knew pretty well where they were, failing in our Objective War Planning to either secure or destroy them?

        The list of idiocies and incompetences and unintended-consequences is huge and endless, and the bottom line is that humans, as a group, are a failed species once you pass a certain population level.

        Yes, many Pakistans, many Notagainsitans, many Israels and Palestines, and way more than one America. No number of “authoritative links” can be hammered into a blog post to even approach what might start to be thought of as the precursor to the beginning of an examination of the factors that might arguably be incorporated into a Realistic Objective Analysis.

        At least as far as I can see.

  7. 209th ANA Corps [which is responsible for the 8 Northern Afghan provinces and is supported by ISAF RC-North] just got a 3rd ANA brigade. It will have 11 combat battalions by the end of 2010.

    Kunduz has finally gotten authorization for more ANP inside their province [until now Kunduz Pasthun ANP were frequently redeployed to the South to populate the Southern ANP with motivated competent Pashtuns.]

    Kunduz should have enough troops by the end of 2010.

    Kunduz is unusual in that most of the Pashtun strongly oppose the Taliban. Even Pashtuns in Kunduz demand more ISAF air strikes to assist their ANSF against the Taliban. [ISAF has been reluctant to comply so far.]

    If the ANSF can defeat the Taliban anywhere it is in Kunduz.

      • Don’t understand your meaning.

        Kunduz is unusual because of the many foreign fighters, including IJU/IMU [Uzbekistan Taliban], Chechens, Pakistanis, who fight along HiG/Hekmatyur. Many of these foreign fighters are lead by very capable officers. After all, they nearly defeated the Russian army in Chechnya in the 1990s, which is no joke [Zawahiri and many Afghan/Uzbek/Pakistani Taliban fought in Chechnya in addition to Chechens.] Many of the Kunduz Taliban have also served tours of duty fighting in Uzbekistan, Kashmir, and Pakistan [against the Pakistani Army.]

        The Kunduz Taliban are better equipped and better trained than the ANP they fight against, which is why ANA is needed in the province [or MoI needs to start providing heavy weapons to the Kunduz ANP.] The advantage the ANP and ANA have is popular support. If the ANP and ANA can demonstrate sufficient technical competence, they should win. Until now, they weren’t allowed to win, because ANA and ANP were diverted elsewhere in Afghanistan. That changes by the end of this year.

        Roger, wrote that “ANSF” can win in Kunduz. ISAF in my view shouldn’t be diverted from elsewhere in the country. ISAF in Kunduz should serve as embedded advisors and fight through the ANSF, which is the current plan I believe.

        On Taliban popular support:
        59% of non Pashtun Afghans oppose the Taliban
        41% of Pashtun Afghans are mixed. Maybe one quarter strongly support the Taliban.

        The Taliban are not that numerous, which is why pessimism about the prospects of the ANSF is puzzling.

  8. Why do you say that most Pashtuns oppose the Taliban? If practically all the Hazaris and Tajiks oppose the Taliban and over half of the rest (Pashtuns), that must mean Taliban support is very small indeed. But the reports from the field (cf. Wikileaks) seem to indicate otherwise. Maybe our enemies aren’t just the Taliban? Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i Islami forces, maybe. Especially in Kunduz. But if it’s true as poster Anan writes, that it is in Kunduz that ISAF can win, what’s the point of winning if the result is something as bad as the Taliban? Should NATO take the side of one Muhajadeen against the other?

    • Does it ever occur to anyone that the mental blocking that insists on postulating everything as a zero-sum game, with “us” on the one side and “the enemy” or “our enemies” (the latter being a collection of other reified “entities” as misleading as the phrase “the Taliban”), is just simply WRONG?

      As wrong as a couple of 16th century physicians arguing whether the buboes on the plague victim were a result of the black bile or the yellow bile, or maybe one of the other two “humours” that was all there was to the “science” of medical causation, diagnosis and treatment way back when?

      Seems to me that “the enemy” is an archetype as powerful as the Mother, the Father, the Dying God — but the Great Thinking and research and pondering about this particular archetype seems curiously truncated and pretermitted. We just jump to the desired endpoint: (Enemy BAD, We GOOD, anything we do to Enemy A-OK, even Enemy agree with that, since He think same way). The closest thing I can find, anyway, to any substantive and subtle analysis of The Enemy as Archetype is a little bit under “mimesis:” We pretend to know who WE are by pretending to know who The Enemy is, that construct being simply, and fraudulently, and dishonestly, “that which we are not, and to whom we can do anything we want with impunity because HE would do it to US if HE could.” As in, “Never mind, (s)he’s just one of The Enemy.”

      Moving half a million troops, contractors, camp followers and hangers-on, and all their sexy hardware and software, half way around the world to “Do Something!”, is a little like using a car crusher to cure an engine knock. The only people who win in that game are the recyclers who police up and melt down the scrap metal. Like the Japanese, who made a killing buying up the scrap of “battle losses” piled up over 20 years of that enterprise called “war” that was conducted in that place called Vietnam that now sells socks and shirts to Walmart for sale to us Real Americans.

      And to wrap it up all nice and neat, how about this little article on the bubonic plague out of Wikiland? Is it not interesting how the ingenious little Japanese used plague-infected fleas on their fellow humans? And how “we,” if we thought we could get away with it, would do the same? Because The Enemy DESERVES it. And the people we anoint to Defend us and Protect Our Security and Insulate Us From the Moral Cost Of Our Actions get off on having such neat tools in their kits.

  9. From whom are the Afghan Taliban receiving the cash they seem to dispense in generous amounts to young Afghan men, the military hardware they possess, and the increasingly improved military strategy and tactics they display? In another time, we leveraged the Mujaheddin very effectively. Is this approach now being used against us? If so, by whom?

  10. Imagine the situation was reversed.

    If invading armies from Afghanistan and Iraq ‘liberated’ Australia, where I live, promising to deliver meaningful democracy in this country (sounds rather attractive!) – yet in reality putting down bases for permanent occupation and committing recurrent atrocities, at some point even laid-back Aussies who live here might say ‘enough is enough’ and support insurgents.

    If the only young men who happened to be willing to fight and whose networks were relatively free from infiltration from occupiers happened to be Christian fundamentalists, I’d have some misgivings. Even so, after nine years of occupation, I think I’d more than likely throw my support behind them.

    Are Americans different? I doubt it.

    Why should we expect Iraqis or Afghans to be different?

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