Sunday, November 26, 2006

Update from Afghanistan 

The Independent newspaper provides us with a summary of the latest news from Afghanistan.
First, of course, there aren't enough NATO troops -- well, we already knew that.
Other than that, the recent news is OK:
A series of truces at local and national level, produced by informal talks between Hamid Karzai's government with the Taliban and its Islamist ally, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, appear to be holding for the time being. Sources close to the Taliban admitted to The Independent on Sunday that the insurgents had suffered during Nato's recent offensive in the Kandahar region, Operation Medusa.
There is also the traditional Afghan break from campaigning during the winter, and the fact this is the poppy planting season. The Taliban, like others in Afghanistan, profit from heroin and do not want to disrupt production.
But the news for the spring is more ominous:
The British commander of NATO's forces in Afghanistan, Lt-Gen David Richards, sought to speed up development work when he took over in mid-2006, believing it was essential to win public support. He also helped President Karzai set up an action group to co-ordinate security operations with aid work. But his tenure is due to end early in the new year, and the Pentagon has successfully lobbied to replace him with an American who is expected to take a far more aggressive stance. . . .
The Taliban may also return to confrontation as winter recedes. According to Islamist sources, Mr Hekmatyar's tentative talks with the Afghan government have run into opposition from his al-Qa'ida allies. The most active of the Taliban commanders, Mullah Dadullah Akhund, is strongly against any truce, and it will be easy to replace the fighters lost or killed during the summer from madrasas, or religious schools, across the border in Pakistan.
I hope our Canadian soldiers won't be cannon fodder in a confrontation between an aggressive American commander and a hostile Taliban one.
UPDATE: Hmmm, may have spoken too soon.

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