The U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan has pinned its hopes on a new local-militia program to help shore up street-level security ahead of the coalition’s planned 2014 departure after more than a decade of war.
Archived posts with tag ‘Taliban’
Twice in the span of a month, the Taliban has unleashed human waves on one of the U.S. Army’s most isolated Afghan outposts. Twice, the American soldiers guarding the tiny fort have beat back the attackers, killing scores of extremists while suffering no losses of their own.
The passengers and crew of the twin-rotor CH-47 Chinook helicopter probably never saw the rocket hurtling towards them. The explosion and fiery crash in Wardak province in eastern Afghanistan early on Saturday morning killed all 38 people aboard the lumbering chopper.
He was the last person anyone expected to betray them. “Crazy Joe” was an Afghan cop — and a good one, his U.S. comrades believed. That is, until a day in October 2009, in Wardak province south of Kabul. A group of U.S. Army soldiers assigned to work alongside the Afghan police had just sat down to lunch when Crazy Joe opened fire.
It was four in the morning before the guards at Kandahar’s Saraposa prison even knew anything was wrong. By then it was too late: the last of at least 476 prisoners, most of them Taliban and some of them experienced commanders, had escaped the facility through a more than 1,000-foot-long tunnel painstakingly dug into the compound over the course of five months.
The Taliban come at night to Afghanistan’s contested districts. They seek out residents suspected of cooperating with the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force and the Afghan government. The Talibs leave written notes — “night letters,” they’re called — warning the accused against further collaboration.
The Taliban arose to resist Afghanistan’s post-Soviet government. Zaeef was an early member. He recalls that ramshackle beginning.
When the Soviets invaded, Zaeef fled with his family to Pakistan. It was here that the young man’s religious studies took root and he decided to return to Afghanistan to fight with the mujahedeen.
Ahead of a major NATO offensive due to begin soon in southern Afghanistan, Taliban fighters in the town of Marjah are helping local families leave the area, even going as far as lending local farmers their vehicles for transport. “These are our people; they’re not the enemy and they shouldn’t get hurt,” said one fighter as he helped a small boy into a truck laden with the possessions of several fleeing families.
According to The Washington Post, the Taliban leadership council in Quetta is denying that United Nations’ special representative Kai Eide met with any of its members in Dubai last month.
At an international conference in London last week, seventy countries pledged to back Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s plan to negotiate and reconcile with some Taliban. Despite reassurances from Karzai and western allies that reconciliation will not betray hard-won gains in social and political freedom, much of the rhetoric from power players at the summit gave civil society observers the impression human rights — and especially the rights of Afghanistan’s women — will be on the negotiating table.
The urgency and relevance of the ongoing debate over negotiations with the Taliban was underlined on Wednesday when the U.N. removed sanctions imposed in 2001 on five former Taliban leaders.