Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The 'surprising tenacity' of the Taliban

A new report from csmonitor.com says the Taliban have reestablished themselves in Afghanistan.

Quoting McClatchy Newspapers, whose reports find the Taliban's ranks filled with "a new generation of die-hards", the piece paints a picture of resurgent corruption, violence, and anarchy.

According to the McClatchy Washington Bureau, "By failing to stop Taliban leaders and Osama bin Laden from escaping into Pakistan, then diverting troops and resources to Iraq before finishing the job in Afghanistan, the Bush administration left the door open to a Taliban comeback."

More from "Afghanistan, 5 years later: US confronts Taliban's return" here:

The Taliban quietly re-established themselves because the Pentagon largely ignored southern Afghanistan, according to current and former U.S., European and Afghan officials and commanders.

Until ISAF troops began arriving, no more than 3,000 U.S. troops were deployed there, even though it was the Taliban heartland.

Instead, the Pentagon focused most of its manpower on hunting al Qaida along the border with Pakistan. Karzai, meanwhile, lacked the security forces to extend his authority beyond the region's provincial capitals.

"The south has been to a large degree a vacuum," said a senior ISAF official, who requested anonymity because of the criticism of U.S. policy. "When the Taliban was pushed out (in 2001), they were neither replaced by effective government, nor were they replaced by alternative security forces. NATO is now dealing with the consequences of previous failures in policy."

Taliban leaders quietly re-established bases and training camps in Pakistan's border areas, where they were welcomed by Pashtun tribes, and rebuilt their ranks with religious students recruited from among the 2.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

To learn more of how these developments are affecting US and NATO troops in the region, see, "The 'surprising tenacity' of the Taliban".