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Dec 9th, 2008

Taliban Insurgency Widening Its Presence in Afghanistan

Taliban has permanent presence in 72 percent of Afghanistan, can infiltrate the Kabul at will

Update: Smoke rises from a shopping mall after a Taliban attack in Kabul on Monday, Jan. 18, 2010. Taliban gunmen battled security forces for hours, as the government forces restored control after the attack. At least five people, including a child, were killed and nearly 40 wounded, officials said. (Photo credit: Ahmad Masood / Reuters) … View more photos

Dec. 8, 2008

LONDON, England — The Taliban insurgency is widening its presence in Afghanistan and “closing a noose around Kabul,” an international think tank report says.

The report — issued Monday by the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) — said the Taliban movement “now holds a permanent presence in 72 percent of Afghanistan, up from 54 percent a year ago.”

NATO, which commands about 50,000 troops in the country, disputes the figures.

Titled “Struggle for Kabul: The Taliban Advance,” the report said the international community must ramp up grass-roots economic and humanitarian relief to stop the Taliban, the group that once ruled Afghanistan and harbored the al Qaeda terror network when it attacked the United States in 2001. …

The report said the Taliban have expanded from the country’s southern region to the western and northwestern provinces and near Kabul, “where three out of the four main highways into Kabul are now compromised by Taliban activity.”

“Confident in their expansion beyond the rural south, the Taliban are at the gates of the capital and infiltrating the city at will,” according to the ICOS report. …

The report says there has been “talk of reconciliation and power sharing” between moderate Taliban and elected officials nationally. It says the Taliban have filled a governance void locally.

ICOS says military “intervention and intelligence” should continue to be supported, and it wants the number of troops under NATO command increased to 80,000. But military action alone isn’t the answer, it said.

The report urges “closer collaboration between military and development efforts” and says job creation, health care, shelter, effective counter-narcotics policies, literacy, the rule of law, and a free media should also be viewed as “key security instruments.” …

ICOS said the Taliban use strong recruitment and propaganda efforts to make inroads among local Afghans — many of whom are disappointed by the failure of the West to eliminate grinding poverty and angered by civilian casualties caused by Western airstrikes targeting insurgents. …

The report calls for alternatives to fighting the Afghan drug trade, which helps fund Islamic militants and has a long reach into Western cities. …

President-elect Barack Obama has said Afghanistan is the central front in the war on terror and wants to deploy more troops to the country. …


Related reports

Taliban chief: More fighting to come

Afghanistan will get worse, McCain warns

South and Central Asia video

Militants again torch NATO supply vehicles in Pakistan (MSNBC, Dec. 8, 2008) — For the second time, suspected Taliban militants torch a convoy of NATO supply trucks in Pakistan.’s Dara Brown reports. (00:36)


Marine General Expects Shift to Afghanistan 

Dec. 8, 2008

WASHINGTON — There is a growing consensus among defense leaders to send a substantial contingent of Marines to Afghanistan, probably beginning next spring, while dramatically reducing their presence in western Iraq, the top Marine general told The Associated Press on Monday.

Gen. James Conway, the Marine Corps commandant, said in an interview that Marine units tentatively scheduled to go to Iraq next spring are already incorporating some training for Afghanistan into their preparations.

He said he has had discussions with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and believes the Pentagon chief “would not object to the idea of a fairly strategic shift of focus of Marines from Iraq to Afghanistan.”

“I don’t want to put words in his mouth,” said Conway, who has made no secret of his belief that Marines could be put to better use fighting in Afghanistan than their current peacekeeping, nation-building mission in Iraq. …

In an illustration of the growing challenge for the U.S. in Afghanistan, an international think tank estimated in a report released Monday that the Taliban has a “permanent presence” in nearly three-quarters of the country. The International Council on Security and Development said the Taliban presence has grown from 54 percent of Afghanistan a year ago to 72 percent today.

The report described the Taliban as “the de facto governing power” in some towns and villages in southern Afghanistan, and it said the militant group has managed to advance into Afghanistan’s western and northwestern provinces, as well as some areas north of Kabul, the capital.

Gen. David McKiernan, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, has said he needs up to 20,000 additional troops, including four combat brigades and thousands of support troops. …

In particular, Conway said that there are serious problems in southern Afghanistan that the Marines can address. Insurgents there, he said, have lines into Pakistan, much like the Sunni Arab insurgents in Iraq’s western Anbar province had remote passages from Syria, to move fighters and finances. …

Asked about the expected cut in U.S. forces in Iraq, Conway acknowledged there’s a running joke in the military that his Marines want to leave Iraq because there’s not enough action there. Peacekeeping and nation-building – roles that troops are playing to a larger degree in Iraq now — are “not our forte,” Conway said.

2 Responses to “Taliban ‘Noose Around Kabul’”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Iraq-Afghanistan Casualties Says:

    […] Taliban ‘Noose Around Kabul’ […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » House Dems OK Illegal Amnesty Says:

    […] Taliban ‘Noose Around Kabul’ […]

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