Monday, October 12, 2015

The reach of the Taliban

An article in New York Times edition of Oct. 12 suggests that the Taliban's control of Afghanistan is the most extensive that it has ever been since before the U.S. invasion in 2001.

The story, based on a United Nations report, shows that the UN is finally admitting to what's been well known for the past five years, easily since 2010. The Taliban has controlled much of Afghanistan for nearly a decade.

I wrote about this Afghan reality back in 2010 and 2011 in Above the Din of War.

The extensive Taliban control throughout the country was well established when I arrived for my second year there in August 2010.

My eyes were opened at a briefing by the Afghan NGO Security office, a real time security service for all the internationals. You got text messages on attacks anywhere in the country as soon as they happened.

There were sometimes hundreds per day, from minor shootings and kidnappings, to suicide bombers. Handy info if you didn't want into the middle of nasty business.

The security folks showed a map on the screen that day with each province in red that had a Taliban shadow government. The entire map was red!

What the US commander in Afghanistan, General Campbell told Congress recently is true. The Afghans control Kabul and major city centers. And, the Afghans are holding on. Barely.

When you look at the territory in government control, it's probably about 20 percent or less of the country. This is the map with the NY Times article:

The black is nearly complete Taliban control, the red is extreme, and tan is serious.
The center of the country is in white, which means little Taliban presence. But that's only because no one lives there. It's too rugged. The northern sections should not be white either.

The reality in 2010 -- five years ago!! -- was that the Afghan police and military would not venture from their city compounds without moving in heavily armed convoys.

I had a taste of this in the southern Helmand province when my police escort drove at a breakneck speeds on dirt roads to minimize the chances of us being hit. This was after I was assured that the road and town that I visited was completely safe!

This was before the US and NATO draw down. It's only gotten worse. It's surprising that the Taliban hasn't done more like they did recently in Kunduz.

That the UN is only now admitting this is because they don't want to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

Obama reluctantly has kept about 10,000 soldiers there because without them, the country would undoubtedly be in Taliban hands

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