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Entries in Taliban (62)


Afghanistan: The US Military v. Obama, Again (Cohen)

The simple fact is that ever since the president announced a July 2011 deadline for commencing withdrawals the military has chafed against what its views as an arbitrary deadline for pulling the plug on the operation. Rather than following Obama's admonition to not send troops into areas that could not be realistically handed over to the Afghan security forces by 2011, NATO and U.S. forces have engaged in a "clear, hold, and build strategy" in places where there is limited chance of turnover any time soon. It's hard to square that approach with a White House that seems desperate to embrace political reality and find the Afghan exit ramp.

But by spinning an optimistic tale of progress -- and pushing stories to journalists that suggest success is just around the corner -- the military could see only a nominal decrease of troops in July 2011. At the very least, it will put more public pressure on the White House to stay the course and fudge the troop withdrawal deadline.

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Afghanistan Corrected: US Officials "Did We Say Victory? We May Have Exaggerated." 

Was it really only 11 days ago that Carlotta Gall of The New York Times, fed the line by the US military, was declaring that the Taliban had been "routed" and that high-profile pundits like Slate's Fred Kaplan were effusive about the superiority of US intelligence and rockets?

Was it only this past weekend that General David Petraeus, the US commander in Afghanistan, was proclaiming a key victory in southern Afghanistan?


This from Greg Miller in today's Washington Post:

An intense military campaign aimed at crippling the Taliban has so far failed to inflict more than fleeting setbacks on the insurgency or put meaningful pressure on its leaders to seek peace, according to U.S. military and intelligence officials citing the latest assessments of the war in Afghanistan.

Escalated airstrikes and special operations raids have disrupted Taliban movements and damaged local cells. But officials said that insurgents have been adept at absorbing the blows and that they appear confident that they can outlast an American troop buildup set to subside beginning next July.

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Afghanistan: Taking Apart the Latest "We're Routing the Taliban" Story

On Wednesday, Carlotta Gall of The New York Times posted a glowing account of progress in the war against insurgents in southern Afghanistan, "

The unadulterated story of victory --- "The Taliban will have a hard time returning to areas they had controlled in the province that was their base" --- was accompanied by other cheers of We're Winning, almost nine years after the US had supposedly won in Afghanistan.

Specialist observers, however, thought that the real victory might be that of a propaganda offensive by the US military, and they were not ready to join in the celebration. Joshua Foust wrote, "This disconnect between military spin and ground reality is not only dangerous, it is insulting."

We asked EA's new Afghanistan correspondent David Fitzgerald to look over the evidence and give us an analysis.

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Afghanistan: NATO Assists "Taliban Leaders" in Talks with Government (Filkins)

Talks to end the war in Afghanistan involve extensive, face-to-face discussions with Taliban commanders from the highest levels of the group’s leadership, who are secretly leaving their sanctuaries in Pakistan with the help of NATO troops, officials here say.

The discussions, some of which have taken place in Kabul, are unfolding between the inner circle of President Hamid Karzai and members of the Quetta shura, the leadership group that oversees the Taliban war effort inside Afghanistan. Afghan leaders have also held discussions with leaders of the Haqqani network, considered to be one of the most hard-line guerrilla factions fighting here; and members of the Peshawar shura, whose fighters are based in eastern Afghanistan.

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Afghanistan: Government Peace Council Asks Taliban to Present Conditions for Talks (Pajhwok)

Rahmatullah Afghan reports for Pajhwok Afghan News:

The Afghan government-backed High Peace Council has asked the Taliban to present their conditions that could help the peace process move forward, an official said on Friday.

The Taliban have been asked to provide reasonable conditions for entering a dialogue process with the 70-member peace council, Ataullah Ludin, a member of the council said on Friday.

In early June, as many as 1,200 elders and influential people attended the Peace Advisory Jirga in Kabul. The jirga had called for the creation of a council to ensure the reintegration of Taliban and other anti-government elements into society.

The jirga had asked the government and the international community to pave the ground for talks with all disgruntled individuals and groups. It demanded the formation of a peace council to arrange negotiations with militant groups.

The Taliban, who are waging a bloody insurgency, have rejected the peace council. They have said until foreign soldiers do not leave the country, the group led by Mullah Muhammad Omar, would not talk with the West-baked Afghan government.

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Bombing Our Way to Peace? Afghanistan 2010 and Vietnam 1972

Airstrikes on Taliban insurgents have risen sharply here over the past four months, the latest piece in what appears to be a coordinated effort by American commanders to bleed the insurgency and pressure its leaders to negotiate an end to the war.

American pilots pounded the Taliban with 2,100 bombs or missiles from June through September, with 700 in September alone, Air Force officers here said Thursday. That is an increase of nearly 50 percent over the same period last year, the records show.

The stepped-up air campaign is part of what appears to be an intensifying American effort, orchestrated by Gen. David H. Petraeus, to break the military stalemate here as pressure intensifies at home to bring the nine-year-old war to an end....

Operation Linebacker II ordered by President Nixon, lasted 11 days (18-29 December 1972). The primary objective of the operation was to coerce North Vietnam to re-enter into purposeful negotiations concerning a peace agreement that helped end the war in terms acceptable to the US.

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Afghanistan: Guards at US Military Bases Linked to Taliban (Risen)

Afghan private security forces with ties to the Taliban, criminal networks and Iranian intelligence have been hired to guard American military bases in Afghanistan, exposing United States soldiers to surprise attack and confounding the fight against insurgents, according to a Senate investigation.

The Pentagon’s oversight of the Afghan guards is virtually nonexistent, allowing local security deals among American military commanders, Western contracting companies and Afghan warlords who are closely connected to the violent insurgency, according to the report by investigators on the staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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White House Report: Pakistan Not Doing Enough Against Insurgents (Henry)

Despite repeated Obama administration claims in public that Pakistan is working hard to crack down on militants, a private White House review uses unusually tough language to suggest the ally is not doing nearly enough to confront the Taliban and al Qaeda, according to a copy of a report to Congress.

The report notes that from March to June, the Pakistani military "continued to avoid military engagements that would put it in direct conflict with Afghan Taliban or [al Qaeda] forces in North Waziristan. This is as much a political choice as it is a reflection of an under-resourced military prioritizing its targets."

The report notes bluntly that despite having a presence of 140,000 military and paramilitary personnel, the Pakistani military has been "nonetheless constrained to disrupting and displacing extremist groups without making lasting gains against the insurgency."

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Afghanistan: Taliban & Karzai Government in "High-Level Talks" (DeYoung/Finn/Whitlock)

In The Washington Post, Karen DeYoung, Peter Finn, and Craig Whitlock report that the Taliban and the Afghan Government have begun discussions for an end to conflict.

Not all observers find this dramatic or promising. In response to the question of Times of London reporter Jerome Starkey, "Did we know this already or did I dream it?", an aid worker in Afghanistan responded, "I don't think you were dreaming. It's lather, rinse, repeat."


Taliban representatives and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai have begun secret, high-level talks over a negotiated end to the war, according to Afghan and Arab sources.

The talks follow inconclusive meetings, hosted by Saudi Arabia, that ended more than a year ago. While emphasizing the preliminary nature of the current discussions, the sources said that for the first time they believe that Taliban representatives are fully authorized to speak for the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban organization based inPakistan, and its leader, Mohammad Omar.

"They are very, very serious about finding a way out," one source close to the talks said of the Taliban.

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US Policy on Afghanistan: The Obama Administration's PR Offensive, "We Must, We Must Stay the Course" 

For some time, we have been noting the US military's bureaucratic triumph over the President in the escalation of and persistence with the American campaign in Afghanistan, even beyond Barack Obama's nominal withdrawal date of July 2011.

Now the other shoe drops, courtesy of an article by Karen DeYoung in The Washington Post. This time it is the White House putting out the message: despite the growing doubts over the US intervention, despite the rising costs in money and lives, despite the complications of corruption, despite the inconclusive outcome of this week's Parliamentary elections, Washington will --- it must --- carry on.

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