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Old 03-23-2008   #1
Rex Brynen
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Default The Taliban

The Globe and Mail has an excellent series of video interviews with 42 rank-and-file Taliban fighters in the Kandahar area. The series (which has just started) can be seen here.
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Old 03-27-2008   #2
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Default Rex Brynen Reply

An excellent series, btw. Graeme Smith relies upon Tom Johnson of the Naval Post-Graduate School for some of his expertise. Here's Johnson's latest-

The Taliban Insurgency and an Analysis of Shabnamah (Night Letters)- NPS
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Old 04-03-2008   #3
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2 Apr 08 testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Strategic Chaos and the Taliban Resurgence in Afghanistan:

LTG (R) David Barno
Quote:
....In the command and control arena, the US three star HQ which I commanded, based in Kabul – a HQ which built a comprehensive civil-military counter-insurgency plan tightly linked to our embassy led by Ambassador Khalilzad -- has now been dis-established. In late 2006, NATO assumed the overall military command of Afghanistan. Our senior American military HQ – now a two star organization -- is located at Bagram air base, a ninety minute drive north of Kabul. Its geographic responsibility under NATO comprises only Regional Command East – territory representing less than one quarter of the responsibilities which the same US HQ at Bagram held in 2004. Its immense capabilities to oversee a broad counter-insurgency fight all across southern Afghanistan – much as it did in 2004 – in my judgment are being under-utilized.

The enemy in Afghanistan -- a collection of Al Qaeda, Taliban, Hezbi Islami, and foreign fighters – is unquestionably a much stronger force than the enemy we faced in 2004. There are many reasons for this change, but it is -- I am afraid -- an undeniable fact. And of course this enemy extends and in many ways re-generates within the tribal areas of Pakistan. Recent events there – particularly the worrisome prospect of a new Pakistani government entering into some sort of negotiations with the Taliban and other terrorist groups in the tribal areas – are developments which give cause for grave concern.....
Seth Jones, RAND
Quote:
....insurgents have established a sanctuary in neighboring Pakistan. Every major insurgent group – such as the Taliban, Haqqani network, Hezb-i-Islami, and al Qa’ida – has established a command-and-control apparatus on the Pakistani side of the border. Al Qa’ida poses a particular concern because of its international scope. It has a core membership, not counting the Uzbek presence, of several hundred people clustered in such Pakistan tribal agencies as North Waziristan, South Waziristan, and Bajaur. Al Qa’ida takes advantage of other militant groups' networks to operate in settled areas of Pakistan. It has revitalized itself and returned to the operating style it enjoyed prior to 9/11. Leadership is divided among functional shura councils, covering such areas as military, political, financial, and media affairs. Finally, parts of the Pakistan government – especially current members of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate and Frontier Corps – continue to provide support to the Taliban and Haqqani network.....
Mark Schneider, ICG
Quote:
....Equally if not more serious, the Afghan Government has not been held accountable to its commitments on disarmament, transitional justice and human rights, and anti-corruption. The creation and demise of the Special Consultative Board for Senior Government Appointments, part of the Compact, deserves special mention—as the very first benchmark and critical to nearly everything else to be achieved in Afghanistan. The commitment was that “a clear and transparent national appointments mechanism will be established within six months, applied within 12 months and fully implemented within 24 months for all senior level appointments to the central government and the judiciary, as well as for provincial governors, chiefs of police, district administrators and provincial heads of security.” Although its members were appointed with much fanfare, the board has never properly functioned, does not have adequate staff or support and is rarely consulted. We fault the Bush Administration, the other embassies, the UN, the EU and NATO for not standing firm on that key systemic reform for transparency, human rights and institution-building.

While effective military action may deny victory to the insurgency—only effective governance will defeat it.
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Old 04-03-2008   #4
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Default Obviously the meds need to be changed...

Quote:
...We fault the Bush Administration, the other embassies, the UN, the EU and NATO for not standing firm on that key systemic reform for transparency, human rights and institution-building.
or this guy has never tried to herd cats...

Gotta love 'em.
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Old 04-16-2008   #5
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Asia Times, 11 Apr 08: The Taliban Talk the Talk
Quote:
....Afghanistan is about to enter a new phase; for the first time since their ouster in 2001, the Taliban will scale back their tribal guerrilla warfare and concentrate on tactics used by the legendary Vietnamese commander General Vo Nguyen Giap, an approach that has already proved successful in taming the Pakistani military in the tribal areas.

"For the first time, the Taliban will have a well-coordinated strategy under which we will seize isolated military posts for a limited time, taking enemy combatants hostage, and then leaving them," "Dr Jarrah", a Taliban media spokesman, told Asia Times Online in a telephone conversation from Kunar province in Afghanistan.

"This is the second tier of General Giap's guerrilla strategy. The third tier is a conventional face-to-face war. This aims to demoralize the enemy," Jarrah explained. "We have been delayed by rainfall, but you shall see action by mid-April.".....
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Old 08-22-2008   #6
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This actually first appeared on the 20th in another paper:

"Taliban fielded battalion-size force only 10 months after rout, reports say", by Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press (in the The Globe and Mail),
21 August, 2008:

Quote:
OTTAWA -- Taliban militants reportedly amassed a 600-strong fighting force and dragged out bigger weapons only 10 months after being routed by NATO forces in a landmark 2006 battle west of Kandahar, newly released documents have revealed.
More at the link. During the summer of 2006 (OP MEDUSA), coalition forces bagged a Taleban force of some 400-500 men operating in and around Panjwai out of some 2,000 Taleban believed to be in the region. Early on in the operation, a force of some 100 Taleban repulsed a Canadian rifle company (leading a battle group) attempting an "unopposed" river crossing (higher had prevented proper reconnaissance from being performed prior to the attack). The Taleban got very comfortable moving around in such large units of 100 or more in Helmand and Kandahar Provinces, and this led to some coalition forces abandoning far-flung outposts or turning them over to PMC's due to lack of manpower and difficulties in reinforcing or relieving said outposts in contact.

As the article at the link points out, the released DND documents confirm that southern Afghanistan has served as a sort of proving ground for Taleban tactics and operations using company-sized elements, with the potential to operate at battalion-level. With the Taleban increasingly operating in company-sized elements in the East now for some time, might this open the way for battalion-level ops in the not-so-distant future? At Panjwai in 2006, the Taleban got clobbered when they did so, but conditions in the East are considerably different from the South, the generally much closer terrain just for starters (not to mention proximity to refuges and bases in Pakistan).

Last edited by Norfolk; 08-22-2008 at 10:00 PM.
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Old 08-23-2008   #7
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Default Taliban commentary

Check this on the Kings of War blogsite, from Kings College London War Studies Dept.: http://kingsofwar.wordpress.com/2008...-how/#comments

Cross-posted on the French troops ambush thread, as it comments on that incident and the wider impact of the Taliban.

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Old 08-24-2008   #8
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A piece by Jason Burke in today's Observer;

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/24/afghanistan

Quote:
While clashes in remote Helmand dominate the headlines, another battle is being waged by the insurgents on Kabul's doorstep. There, the Taliban are winning support by building a parallel administration, which is more effective, more popular and more brutal than the government's
Not very cheering, to say the least.
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Old 08-29-2008   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gh_uk View Post
A piece by Jason Burke in today's Observer;

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/24/afghanistan

Not very cheering, to say the least.
Gee, just in time for this.....
http://uk.reuters.com/article/topNew...11326220080828
Quote:
"Afghan forces took over responsibility for the security of the capital, Kabul, on Thursday, in what is largely viewed as a symbolic move.

Although there are no plans for foreign forces to pull out of the city any time soon, the move is also meant to reflect the growing strength of the Afghan army and police force...."
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Old 09-16-2008   #10
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Default Intrepid reporting

Might fit elsewhere, but seems appropriate to add here - a report from The (London) Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...old-guard.html

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Old 09-16-2008   #11
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That's a good story about Taliban motives. I don't know how much you can extend the characterization to all Taliban/ACM, but it's a good corrective to the common notion that the Taliban are motivated first by religion.
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Old 12-23-2008   #12
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ICOS, 8 Dec 08: Struggle for Kabul: The Taliban Advance
Quote:
While the international community’s prospects in Afghanistan have never been bleaker, the Taliban has been experiencing a renaissance that has gained momentum since 2005. At the end of 2001, uprooted from its strongholds and with its critical mass shattered, it was viewed as a spent force. It was naively assumed by the US and its allies that the factors which propelled the Taliban to prominence in Afghanistan would become moribund in parallel to its expulsion from the country. The logic ran that as ordinary Afghans became aware of the superiority of a western democratic model and the benefits of that system flowed down to every corner of the country, then the Taliban’s rule would be consigned to the margins of Afghan history.

However, as seven years of missed opportunity have rolled by, the Taliban has rooted itself across increasing swathes of Afghan territory. According to research undertaken by ICOS throughout 2008, the Taliban now has a permanent presence in 72% of the country. This figure is up from 54% in November 2007, as outlined in the ICOS report Stumbling into Chaos: Afghanistan on the Brink. Moreover, it is now seen as the de facto governing power in a number of southern towns and villages. The increase in their geographic spread illustrates that the Taliban’s political, military and economic strategies are now more successful than the West’s in Afghanistan. Confident in their expansion beyond the rural south, the Taliban is at the gates of the capital and infiltrating the city at will.

Of the four doors leading out of Kabul, three are now compromised by Taliban activity. The roads to the west, towards the Afghan National Ring Road through Wardak to Kandahar have become unsafe for Afghan or international travel by the time travellers reach the entrance to Wardak province, which is about thirty minutes from the city limits. The road south to Logar is no longer safe for Afghan or international travel. The road east to Jalalabad is not safe for Afghan or international travel once travellers reach the Sarobi Junction which is about an hour outside of the city. Of the two roads leaving the city to the north only one – the road towards the Panjshir valley, Salang tunnel and Mazar – is considered safe for Afghan and international travel. The second road towards the north which leads to the Bagram Air Base is frequently used by foreign and military convoys and subject to insurgent attacks......
Complete 40-page report at the link.
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Old 12-23-2008   #13
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Default "Inside the Taliban," Mail & Guardian (ZAF) Online, 23 Dec 08

Some highlights from this article....
Quote:
..."Salar is the new Falluja," said Qomendan Hemmet emphatically. "The Americans and the Afghan army control the highway and 5m on each side. The rest is ours." Salar district in Wardak province lies 80km south of Kabul. The Kandahar-Kabul passing through it is a major supply line for United States and Nato troops. Like the Baghdad-Fallujah road, it is littered with holes from improvised explosive devices and carcasses of burnt-out Nato supply trucks and containers....
Quote:
Hemmet is a Taliban veteran who started fighting against the Northern Alliance forces in the mid-Nineties, when he was 17. He went into hiding after the capital fell, becoming the commander of the Salar district after the previous leader died three years ago. "Against the Northern Alliance we fought face to face. This war is more difficult, the enemy controls the skies and they have many weapons. Sometimes I am scared. But we yearn for fighting the kafirs [unbelievers]. It's a joyful thing."
Quote:
Mullah Muhamadi, one of Hemmet's men, arrives wearing a long leather jacket and big turban. "This is not just a guerrilla war, and it's not an organised war with fronts," he said. "It's both. "When we control a province we must provide service to the people. We want to show them we can rule, and we are ready for when we take over Kabul, that we have learned from our mistakes." Muhamadi said his group aimed to carry out about three attacks a week, but they did not always have enough ammunition. "Each area has a different strategy. Here it's attacking the main road, but everywhere in this province the countryside is in our control."
Quote:
He said the Taliban's main problems were bandits and land disputes, and that in solving them "we win the hearts of the people". "We went from the jihad to the government and now we are in the jihad again. We have learned from our mistakes. The leaders are the same but the fighters are new and they don't want to be like those who ruled and made mistakes."
Quote:
"I convince them that the Taliban are coming. We use all the facilities we have, our words and our pens to recruit for the movement, in the university, the bazaar and everywhere in the city." The irony is that he is using the freedom of speech provided by the Afghan government. "There is free speech now and we are not scared of the government. We work cautiously, we talk to the people as if we are talking about political and daily issues. The government is too weak to monitor us."
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Old 11-27-2009   #14
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Default New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field

On Monday 23 November Dr Antonio Giustozzi, Research Fellow at the Crisis States Research Centre at the London School of Economics, spoke on his edited book “Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field” (C Hurst & Co, 2009). Described as 'the authority on the Taliban'.

Speech: http://www.iiss.org/whats-new/iiss-p...-afghan-field/ (27 mins) and Q&A (37mins). I had a snag as the volume was too low to listen easily.

Dr Antonio Giustozzi is a research fellow at the Crisis States Research Centre at the London School of Economics and has already authored “Empires of Mud” (C. Hurst. & Co, 2009), “Koran, Kalashnikov and Laptop: The Neo-Taliban Insurgency in Afghanistan 2002-2007” (C Hurst & Co, 2008), and “War, politics and society in Afghanistan, 1978-1992” (Georgetown University Press, 2000). He is currently researching various aspects of governance and politics in Afghanistan and has written several articles and papers on this subject, covering 'warlordism', the formation of the new Afghan National Army, the Afghan insurgency in the 1980s and state building. He previously served in the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (2003-4).
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Old 02-10-2010   #15
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Default Another book

Quote:
Revealing the inner workings of the Taliban from its earliest days, a new autobiography by a senior former member, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, throws extraordinary light on the people who are fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn, co-editors of My Life with the Taliban, a memoir by the former ambassador to Pakistan.
Link: http://frontlineclub.com/events/2010...e-taliban.html with a podcast of the launch meeting.

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Life-Taliban-A.../dp/1849040265 (no reviews on site, there are others elsewhere). Just found Ahmed Rashid includes a sharp review, at Point 6, in a wider comment on the situation: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23630
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Old 03-06-2010   #16
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Default My Life with the Taliban reviewed

A very critical review of this new book 'My Life with the Taliban':
Quote:
In his foreword to Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef’s book, Professor Barnett Rubin of New York University sets the stage for the launch, ostensibly, of a refreshingly authentic work of this inaccurate and revisionist take on contemporary Afghan history.

My Life with the Taliban, written by the former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, has been praised across the board by the media ‘Afghanologists’ such as Ahmed Rashid and Peter Bergen to academics like Antonio Giustozzi of the London School of Economics, without any critical evaluation....

To those of us who grew up in the NWFP or Afghanistan at the height of US-Saudi-Pakistani anti-Soviet war, the crude lies presented in the account are all too apparent from the get-go, as is the translators-cum-editors’ shallow understanding of the local languages and culture...

(And ends with)My life with the Taliban is a poor narrative by a tainted and poor historian (raavi-e-zaeef). The glorification of the book by authors of repute, impugns their credibility too.
Link:http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default...5-3-2010_pg3_6
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Old 07-10-2010   #17
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Default Koran, Kalashnikov and Laptop by Antonio Giustiozzi

Worth checking the lengthy review of Koran, Kalashnikov and Laptop by Antonio Giustiozzi on:http://zenpundit.com/?p=3471

The last sentence sums it up:
Quote:
What the reader will get from Giustozzi is a grasp of who the Neo-Taliban are as a fighting force and the convoluted, granular, social complexity of Afghan political life in which the US is attempting to wage a COIN war.
I suppose I better read it now!
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Old 07-10-2010   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
Worth checking the lengthy review of Koran, Kalashnikov and Laptop by Antonio Giustiozzi on:http://zenpundit.com/?p=3471

The last sentence sums it up:

I suppose I better read it now!
Well, it's not just you guys who are doing it.
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Old 07-26-2010   #19
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Default The Taliban Beyond the Pashtuns

Not sure if previous papers in this series have been posted here.

The latest paper 'The Taliban Beyond the Pashtuns' by Antonio Giustozzi and the Abstract states:
Quote:
Although the Taliban remain a largely Pashtun movement in terms of their composition, they have started making significant inroads among other ethnic groups. In many cases, the Taliban have co-opted, in addition to bandits, disgruntled militia commanders previously linked to other organizations, and the relationship between them is far from solid. There is also, however, emerging evidence of grassroots recruitment of small groups of ideologically committed Uzbek, Turkmen and Tajik Taliban. While even in northern Afghanistan the bulk of the insurgency is still Pashtun, the emerging trend should not be underestimated.
Link:http://www.cigionline.org/sites/defa...an_Paper_5.pdf

Previous papers are on:http://www.cigionline.org/publications/paper-series/234
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Old 08-05-2010   #20
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Default Living with the Taliban on the Afghan frontline

A UK Channel 4 TV commentary on a freelance reporter being embedded and later kidnapped by the Taliban:
Quote:
Channel 4 News has obtained rare film of Taliban fighters on the Afghanistan frontline, including footage of their attacks on US forces. Channel 4 News Chief Correspondent Alex Thomson looks at what the film tells us about the insurgents and their tactics.
The video alas is not working at the moment and yes, often refuses to play abroad.

Link:http://www.channel4.com/news/article...ntline/3734447
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