Thursday, April 26, 2007

Afghan hearts and minds refuse to be won

So much depends on what we make of what we hear. This journalist seems to be hearing that people are turning to the Taliban, but the specific information he gives is that people are mainly eager to carry on their lives without the disruption of a war. They would like the Afghanistan government or NATO to stabilize their world. I continue to doubt that many of the people in the southern and eastern part of Afghanistan, the Pushtun areas, really want to return to the days of Taliban control. They would like the stability that for a time at least they enjoyed under the Taliban, but do they really want Taliban rules? I wonder. It is important to recognize that in the north the problems are different.There appears to be no sign there of a yearning for Taliban-like days. But they are likely to say what these Pushtun people say: Why doesn't the government provide services and protection?

By Damien McElroy
Telegraph, UK

"Troops fighting in Afghanistan are meeting resistance not only from the Taliban, but from the people they are there to support."
"Far from being enticed into repudiating the Taliban, elders lined up to complain about the foreign troops in their midst and, more bitterly, the lack of assistance from the Afghan government."
"A combination of patient listening and promises of aid is a well-tried method across conflict zones to win the backing of the locals.But it is a measure of the Taliban's insidious strength to see the combat operation and the community charm offensive in the same walled compound."
"The political adviser to the mission, Ambassador Gulus Schelema,attempted to persuade the elders that the military would not inflict damage to their livelihoods by destroying opium crops."
"Flushing out Taliban and holding the terrain in the Pashtun heartland is proving immeasurably difficult for Nato. In Kandahar, the Canadian army has had to scale back its ambitious plans.Establishing a permanent presence 120 miles north of the city was a point of pride for Nato, evidence that the coalition could drive into the militant heartland.But it proved too dangerous to run supplies to the troops there. The coalition's "assets" have been shifted to corridors around the provincial capital."

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