It’s Springtime in Kabul for the Taliban

The Taliban kicked off their spring offensive with numerous coordinated attacks in the capital of Kabul and well as in some provinces.

Aljazeera English has video:

This sort of tactic makes a lot of noise, but typically has no practical benefit for a guerrilla movement. The Sunni Arab Islamic State of Iraq has been blowing up Baghdad regularly but we’ve seen no sign of it interfering with the consolidation of power by PM Nouri al-Maliki. Perhaps it has even backfired and created momentum for al-Maliki.

One local Afghan newspaper was left puzzling as to the purpose of these attacks, which, like those in Baghdad, likely have not hope of tactical success. The article speculates that the Taliban are trying to keep the US boots on the ground, just as President Hamid Karzai is, so as to extract strategic rent from the ongoing Western presence in Afghanistan. That is, some allege that the attacks in Kabul were motivated by a desire to draw the US into a longer-term occupation, so that the Taliban can be assured of having someone to fight. (Seems unlikely to me, but interesting that it appeared in the Afghan press. And, I don’t think it would work. Most Americans, even Republicans, want out, and I think most US troops will be out by 2014…)

The USG Open Source Center translated an article from Pashto in the Islamic press about the attacks:

Afghan ministry says 17 militants killed in Kabul attacks
Afghan Islamic Press
Monday, April 16, 2012 …
Document Type: OSC Translated Text . . .

Text of report by private Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency

Kabul, 15 April: Ministry of Interior: 17 militants have been killed in Sunday’s attacks.

The Afghan Ministry of Interior in their latest statement on Sunday, 15 April, said that 17 militants have been killed in today’s attacks and two others have been arrested.

The statement, which AIP received late in the evening, says that the militants targeted three areas in Kabul city in which four militants have been killed.

The statement further adds that 11 police soldiers and five civilians have sustained injures in this incident.

The Ministry of Interior has not confirmed any other casualties except for the killing of the terrorists only.

The statement also adds that four other terrorists have been gunned down in shoot-out between the militants and security guards of PRT in Jalalabad and also adds that three people have been killed as a result of a car explosion.

According to the statement, a terrorist who tried to flee the area was detained by the security forces.

The Ministry of Interior confirms the injury of four civilians in Jalalabad incident.

The statement also says that three assailants have been killed in Sunday’s attack that took place in Gardez city capital of Paktia Province and adds that three policemen and five civilians have been wounded in this attack.

The statement also reported about another incident in Logar Province in which three attackers were killed in Pol-e Alam area of the Province and adds that another terrorist have been arrested. The statement also confirms the injury of only three policemen in this incident.

Although the Ministry of Interior did not report killing of any one from the security forces, Zabihollah Mojahed, the Taleban spokesman, claims killing tens of policemen, army soldiers and a number of foreigners in today’s attacks. Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) has not received any confirmation from independent sources.

(Description of Source: Peshawar Afghan Islamic Press in Pashto — Peshawar-based agency, staffed by Afghans, that describes itself as an independent “news agency” but whose history and reporting pattern reveal a perceptible pro-Taliban bias; the AIP’s founder-director, Mohammad Yaqub Sharafat, has long been associated with a mujahidin faction that merged with the Taliban’s “Islamic Emirate” led by Mullah Omar; subscription required to access content; http://www.afghanislamicpress. com)

9 Responses

  1. 10 years of war, thousands of troops killed and maimed, billions of dollars pumped into a drug infested third world country and we have this to show for our efforts. The Taliban is creating a new front in order to keep the US dollars flowing. That’s just great.

    My senator Lindsey Graham is still saying, “If we just stay the course, we can win this thing.” Translated into neocon speak…When Iran is bombed this year we will have 100,000 troops next door.

  2. “…the purpose of these attacks, which, like those in Baghdad, likely have not hope of tactical success.”

    That’s because they are thinking tactically. The insurgents are thinking strategically. The attacks merely show that the insurgents can make the attacks, that the occupying forces are not in control, that the citizenry is not safe. Remember the American general who said to the Vietmanese one, “You never defeated us in battle, not even once,” only to get the reply, “We did not need to.”

  3. Off Topic

    Legal action against Muslims in the US by the Obama department of justice which show the disregard for the rule of law, and in particular in this case the first amendment of free speech. These set the precedent for arrest and prison for protests in the USA this spring and summer. We who protest in the streets in the USA cannot count on the Bill of Rights for protection.

    Article by Glenn Greenwald who has Tarek Mehanna’s speech before being sent to prision for 17 years.

    link to

    Chris Hedges article “first they come for the Muslims …” which is similar to the steps the Nazi’s used when they went after groups, building up the the Jews.

    link to

  4. Since I can’t read the document and get the tone, could the local Afghan newspaper be asking “What is this supposed to accomplish? Do you want the Americans to stay longer?” as a way of criticizing the Taliban?

  5. As long as Taliban insurgent activities and Western casualties are trumpeted regularly in the press, the Taliban has achieveda major accomplishment. The strategic goal is to erode American public confidence in the occupation of Afghanistan.

    Iraqi insurgents once pointed to a camera in explaining to a journalist how they would defeat American occuaption efforts. During the Second Intifada, Gazan insurgent activated videocameras during ambushes on Israeli soldiers, which were later turned over to media organizations. Eroding the will of an occupying power’s population is the key to winning an insurgency. Ho Chi Minh once stated that he would win with a 10-1 ratio of North Vietnamese versus American fatalities. Sheikh Nasrallah emerged a national hero when his forces killed 166 Israelis versus over 2,000 Lebanese killed in the Second Lebanon War.

    As long as the Taliban continue to resist in a visible manner, America cannot claim victory.

  6. I think that Afghan source puts its finger right on crux of the matter, and it is entirely likely that continuing to have somebody to fight is very much what the Taliban has in mind. That is why it was so incredibly stupid for the U.S. ever to send troops in there in the first place. It was as if the powers that be were completely ignorant of the repeated and costly British failures along those lines through the past two centuries. And I wonder what they thought was going on when even the mighty Soviet Union, conquerors of the Germans in WW2, found it necessary to turn tail and hustle out of there after — what was it? Ten years of trying? And they were right next door, not thousands of gas-wasting miles away.

    Those Afghans will fight and fight to the death any foreign powers who are dumb enough to come in there. I think they’ve shown that over what must now be a couple of thousand years. Chewing up invaders piece by piece and spitting them out is their national sport.

  7. Attacks get publicity, and that helps Taliban recruiting. I imagine their organization has fairly high turnover.

  8. It has seemed to me that the worst thing that could happen to the Taliban would be actually having to govern Afghanistan. They were doing a terrible job of it in 2001. So it makes sense to keep the war going as a scapegoat for their cruelty and incompetence, rather than being judged by peacetime standards.

    However, we should also always consider the interests of the Pakistani Army in what the Taliban does, especially when we hear that the attacks are “sophisticated”. What does the Pakistani Army gain by a perpetual war on its border?

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