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Apr 18th, 2010

Ready for Kandahar Battle, Taliban Say

Options include ‘leave and come back after’ foreigners gone

Image: Predator drone over Kandahar
NATO assets in Kandahar, where a summer offensive is planned, include U.S. Predator drones like this one above Kandahar Air Field. (Photo credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP)

By Kathy Gannon

April 18, 2010

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The Taliban are moving fighters into Kandahar, planting bombs and plotting attacks as NATO and Afghan forces prepare for a summer showdown with insurgents, according to a Taliban commander with close ties to senior insurgent leaders.

NATO and Afghan forces are stepping up operations to push Taliban fighters out of the city, which was the Islamist movement’s headquarters during the years it ruled most of Afghanistan. The goal is to bolster the capability of the local government so that it can keep the Taliban from coming back.

The Taliban commander, who uses the pseudonym Mubeen, told The Associated Press that if military pressure on the insurgents becomes too great “we will just leave and come back after” the foreign forces leave. …

He made no attempt to hide his face and said he felt comfortable because of widespread support among Kandahar’s 500,000 residents, who like the Taliban are mostly Pashtuns, Afghanistan’s biggest ethnic community. …

It is difficult to measure the depth of support for the Taliban among Kandahar’s people, many of whom say they are disgusted by the presence of both the foreign troops and the insurgents. Many of them say they are afraid NATO’s summer offensive will accomplish little other than trigger more violence.

Orders from Omar

Mubeen said Taliban attacks are not random but are carefully planned and ordered by the senior military and political command that assigns jobs and responsibilities to its rank and file. The final arbiter is the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, who heads the council, or shura, that decides strategic goals passed down the ranks to commanders in the field, he said. …

Mubeen, a native of Zabul province, worked with the Taliban’s civil aviation minister, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, during the Taliban’s five-year rule. In the final days before the Taliban abandoned Kandahar in 2001, Mubeen played a crucial logistical role, helping move weapons and supplies to hideouts outside the city.

Mullah Mansoor was one of two senior Taliban figures named by Mullah Omar to replace the No. 2 commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Barader, who was arrested in Pakistan in February.

Mubeen said that in the first years after the Taliban were routed, fighters had to survive in the mountains, rarely making forays into Afghan towns and villages. He attributed the Taliban comeback to deep resentment — especially among ethnic Pashtuns — to the presence of foreign military forces and public disgust with the Afghan government.

‘More sophisticated’ attacks vowed

“Our brothers are already here and ready,” he said. “Our people are skilled now. They know a lot of things, how to make things more difficult and to be more sophisticated in our attacks.” …

Mubeen said the Taliban’s main goal in the war is the establishment of sharia, or Islamic law, in Afghanistan. When they ruled the religious militia enforced an antiquated and regressive interpretation of Islamic law that appalled the West, including publicly amputating hands and feet for theft and carrying out public executions. …

He also said peace negotiations with the Taliban leadership would not take place without the blessing of Mullah Omar.

“The world community should leave our country and then we are ready to negotiate,” he said.


6/10/10 Update

Obama's War

Obama’s War

Combating Extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Full Coverage

‘Still a Long Way to Go’ for U.S. Operation in Marja, Afghanistan

U.S. Marines and Afghan troops are fighting a resurgent Taliban as they struggle to maintain security in the canal-laced farming region of Afghanistan’s Helmand province. View photo gallery. (Photo credit: Andrea Bruce / The Washington Post)

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
The Washington Post
June 10, 2010


MARJA, AFGHANISTAN — Residents of this onetime Taliban sanctuary see signs that the insurgents have regained momentum in recent weeks, despite early claims of success by U.S. Marines. The longer-than-expected effort to secure Marja is prompting alarm among top American commanders that they will not be able to change the course of the war in the time President Obama has given them. …

Firefights between insurgents and security forces occur daily, resulting in more Marine fatalities and casualties over the past month than in the first month of the operation, which began in mid-February.

Marines and Afghan troops have made headway in this farming community, but every step forward, it seems, has been matched by at least a half-step backward. …

“We’ve come a long way,” said Lt. Col. Cal Worth, the commander of one of the two Marine infantry battalions in Marja. “But there’s still a long way to go.”

The slow and uneven progress has worried senior military officials in Kabul and Washington who intended to use Marja as a model to prove that more troops and a new war strategy can yield profound gains against the Taliban. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, told officers here in late May that there is a growing perception that Marja has become “a bleeding ulcer.” …


Related reports on this site

‘Making Enemies’ in Afghanistan (April 12, 2010)

Deadly Bombings in Kandahar (March 14, 2010)

Taliban’s Top Commander Captured (Feb. 17, 2010)

Operation Moshtarak Has Begun (Feb. 13, 2010)

Marines Mass for Marjah Assault (Feb. 10, 2010)

Major Afghan Offensive Imminent (Feb. 5, 2010)

Afghanistan Fog of War (Jan. 31, 2010)

Deadly Day in AfPak War Zone (Jan. 23, 2010)

Taliban Attack Caught on Camera (Jan. 22, 2010)

Taliban Siege Rattles Kabul (Jan. 19, 2010)

Deadly Day in Afghanistan (Jan. 11, 2010)

“Death to America” (Jan. 7, 2010)

“Death to Obama” (Dec. 31, 2009)

Outside the Box in Afghanistan (Dec. 20, 2009)

Public Opinion on Afghan Surge (Dec. 17, 2009)

Iraq, AfPak Have Little in Common (Dec. 5, 2009)

Obama Rolls Dice on AfPak War (Dec. 2, 2009)

Afghanistan Tougher Than Iraq (Nov. 28, 2009)

Escalating Afghanistan Violence (Nov. 20, 2009)

Afghan War Closes in on Kabul (Oct. 28, 2009)

Afghanistan: The 8-Year War (Oct. 7, 2009)

Deadly Day for U.S. in Afghanistan (Oct. 4, 2009)

Afghanistan War Strategy Review (Oct. 3, 2009)

‘Tiring’ of Afghanistan War (Sept. 25, 2009)

Afghanistan “Mission Failure” (Sept. 21, 2009)

9 Coalition Troops Killed (Sept. 19, 2009)

Afghan War ‘Not Worth Fighting’ (Aug. 20, 2009)

NATO HQ in Afghanistan Attacked (Aug. 15, 2009)

Marine Offensive in Afghanistan (Aug. 13, 2009)

Deadly Day for U.S. in Afghanistan (July 7, 2009)

Mumbai-Like Strike in Kabul (Feb. 12, 2009)

Afghan Support for U.S. Plummets (Feb. 10, 2009)

Afghan Villagers Protest Raids (Feb. 1, 2009)

Pakistanis Protest U.S. Airstrikes (Jan. 27, 2009)

Karzai: Stop Air-Raiding Civilians (Nov. 5, 2008)

Karzai Warns of Afghan Backlash (Sept. 25, 2008)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — April 18, 2009

Vital Signs of a Warming World
The science, impacts and scenarios of climate shifts

Climate Change Legislation Afoot

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that Congress would begin hearings on an energy and global warming bill that could revolutionize how the United States produces and uses energy, in an effort to reduce pollution said to be responsible for heating up the planet.

2 Responses to “Taliban Defiant in Kandahar”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Operation Moshtarak Has Begun Says:

    […] Taliban Defiant in Kandahar (April 18, 2010) […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Spate of Bombings in Baghdad Says:

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