Monday, October 23, 2006

New Taliban Campaign in Afghanistan?

Not good:
Taliban fighters are preparing for a campaign of urban warfare, say Afghan and Western intelligence, and have established cells in the cities of Afghanistan from which to launch a campaign of explosions and suicide bombings.

Discussions have already begun about creating a green zone, where foreigners could be protected. Consultants such as Crown Agents and BearingPoint say it is now more difficult to recruit staff to Kabul than Baghdad because of the lack of protection. Some diplomats threaten to withdraw unless they are provided with a fleet of armoured vehicles.

The forgotten-but-not-gone leader of the Taliban, Mohammed Omar, confirms the threats of a new campaign:
A website posting said to be from Taleban spiritual head Mullah Mohammad Omar threatens a "surprising" rise in Afghan violence in the coming months. The message also threatens to bring President Hamid Karzai before an Islamic court whose "justice is known very well to all". The whereabouts of Mullah Omar are not known although some sources have said he is in either Afghanistan or Pakistan.

At least we know for sure that bin Laden is definitely probably in Pakistan somewhere.

It's bad enough that the Taliban have experienced a resurgance. Worse yet is the fact that the insurgency in Afghanistan has been transformed into part of the larger global struggle of Islamic extremists with the West:
During the period from 1994 to 2001, the Taliban were a cloistered clique with little interest in global affairs. Today they are far more sophisticated and outward-looking. “The Taliban of the 90’s were concerned with their district or province,” says Waheed Muzhda, a senior aide at the Supreme Court in Kabul, who before the Taliban fell worked in their Foreign Ministry. “Now they have links with other networks. Before, only two Internet connections existed — one was with Mullah Omar’s office and the other at the Foreign Ministry here in Kabul. Now they are connected to the world.” Though this is still very much an Afghan insurgency, fueled by complex local grievances and power struggles, the films sold in the markets of Pakistan and Afghanistan merge the Taliban story with that of the larger struggle of the Muslim umma, the global community of Islam: images of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Israelis dragging off young Palestinian men and throwing off Palestinian mothers clinging to their sons. Humiliation. Oppression. Followed by the same on Afghan soil: Northern Alliance fighters perching their guns atop the bodies of dead Taliban. In the Taliban story, Special Forces soldiers desecrate the bodies of Taliban fighters by burning them, the Koran is desecrated in Guantánamo toilets, the Prophet Muhammad is desecrated in Danish cartoons and finally an apostate, Abdul Rahman, the Afghan who was arrested earlier this year for converting to Christianity, desecrates Islam and is not only not punished but is released and flown off to Italy.

It cannot be repeated enough that our rebuilding of Afghanistan has suffered greatly because of the war in Iraq. But it is also becoming clear to me that the consequences to our security of our inattention to Afghanistan could be as great as failure in Iraq. Should we be forced to withdraw from Iraq, we at least have the assurance that the Shiite militias will wage war on Al Qaeda and other foreign extremists for us. We have no such assurances in Afghanistan, let alone Pakistan, where Al Qaeda and the Taliban operate freely and wage war on the Karzai's government with impunity. Terrorist plots linked to Al Qaeda in Waziristan have emerged, and as surely as Al Qaeda has planned and carried out attacks in Europe, so too are they planning attacks against the United States, and doing so largely free of interferance. At this juncture, five years since the overthrow of the Taliban, we still can deny Afghanistan to the Taliban. Yet terrorists of Al Qaeda plot their attacks against us, emboldened by our weakness and our failures in Iraq, winning the propoganda war against us, and protected by friendly tribes technically in the country of an ally we can't simply invade to clear them out. And while the entire point of simple-minded strategy of "taking the fight to the terrorists" was to keep them from attacking us here at home, we will find that-if nothing changes soon-our only choice will be to hope that we can catch them before they manage to carry out their attacks.