Sunday, October 29, 2006

Taliban plan to fight through winter to throttle Kabul - Observer

David Seaton's News Links
Obviously NATO is facing a classic "people's war" moving into its final phase. There was a window of opportunity for the US and its allies to stabilize the situation and help the people of that country, (the word "win" is frivolous in Afghanistan's tragic context) , but I'm afraid that window has closed. DS

Abstract: The Taliban are planning a major winter offensive combining their diverse factions in a push on the Afghan capital, Kabul, intelligence analysts and sources among the militia have revealed. The thrust will involve a concerted attempt to take control of surrounding provinces, a bid to cut the key commercial highway linking the capital with the eastern city of Jalalabad, and operations designed to tie down British and other Nato troops in the south.(...) 'They have major attacks planned all the way through to the spring and are quite happy for their enemy to know it,' a Pakistan-based source close to the militia told The Observer. 'There will be no winter pause.' The Taliban's fugitive leader, Mullah Omar, yesterday rejected overtures for peace talks from President Hamid Karzai and said it intended to try him in an Islamic court for the 'massacre' of Afghan civilians. Since their resurgence earlier this year the Taliban have made steady progress towards Kabul from their heartland in the south-east around Kandahar, establishing a presence in Ghazni province an hour's drive from the suburbs. They do not expect to capture the capital but aim to continue destabilising the increasingly fragile Karzai government and influence Western public opinion to force a withdrawal of troops. 'The aim is clear,' said the source. 'Force the international representatives of the crusader Zionist alliance out, and finish with their puppet government.' A winter offensive breaks with tradition. 'Usually all Afghans do in the winter is try and stay warm,' said a Western military intelligence specialist in Kabul. 'The coming months are likely to see intense fighting, suicide bombings and unmanned roadside bombs. That is a measure of how much the Taliban have changed.'(...) In the south, the Taliban's strategy has been influenced by the doctrine of Pakistani spymasters who ran the insurgent war against the Russians in the 1980s. 'The idea then was to keep Afghanistan just below boiling point,' said one Pakistan-based veteran of the 'jihad' against Moscow's troops. 'The Taliban don't want an apocalyptic explosion of violence. They want a steady draining of the West's resources, will and patience.' The Pakistani influence on the Taliban strategy does not surprise many observers. Senior Nato officials speak privately about 'major Taliban infrastructure' in the neighbouring country but Western military intelligence analysis has consistently underestimated the group's depth and breadth - it can almost be considered the army of an unofficial state lying across the Afghan-Pakistani frontier that has no formal borders but is bound together by ethnic, linguistic, ideological and political ties. READ MORE

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