e-Ariana - Todays Afghan News
 Home 
 News 
 Articles 
 Cartoons 
 Feedback 
 Opinion  
 Contact Us  
 An Ariana Media Publication 11/25/2014
 Better-organized Taliban roar back

The Washington Post
09/27/2008
By Pamela Constable

Taliban's revival has been fueled by dissatisfaction with the government's failure to provide services and security and resentment over civilian deaths caused by U.S. and NATO airstrikes.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Just one year ago, the Taliban insurgency was a furtive, loosely organized guerrilla force that carried out hit-and-run ambushes, burned empty schools, left warning letters at night and concentrated attacks in the southern rural regions of its ethnic and religious heartland.

Today it is a larger, better-armed and more confident militia, capable of mounting sustained military assaults. Its forces operate in virtually every province and control many districts in areas ringing the capital. Its fighters have bombed embassies and prisons, nearly assassinated the president, executed foreign aid workers and hanged or beheaded dozens of Afghans.

The new Taliban movement has created a parallel government structure with defense and finance councils, which appoints judges and officials in some areas. It offers cash to recruits and presents letters of introduction to local leaders. It operates Web sites and a 24-hour propaganda apparatus that spins every military incident faster than Afghan and Western officials can manage.

"This is not the Taliban of Emirate times. It is a new, updated generation," said Waheed Mojda, a former foreign-ministry aide under the Taliban Islamic Emirate, which ruled most of the country from 1996 to 2001. "They are more educated, and they don't punish people for having CDs or cassettes," he said. "The old Taliban wanted to bring sharia, security and unity to Afghanistan. The new Taliban have much broader goals — to drive foreign forces out of the country and the Muslim world."

In late 2001, U.S. forces made common cause with ethnic groups in Afghanistan's north to overthrow the Taliban, in response to Osama bin Laden's use of the country as a base. Hamid Karzai was tapped as president by the United States and other powers, then elected to the job. In the early years, much of the deeply conservative Muslim country was largely peaceful and secure.

Over the past two years, the Taliban's revival has been fueled by fast-growing popular dissatisfaction with Karzai's government, which has failed to bring services and security to much of the country. Deepening public resentment against civilian deaths caused by U.S. and NATO alliance airstrikes is another factor.

No one here believes that the insurgents, estimated at 10,000 to 15,000 fighters, are capable of seizing the capital or toppling the government, which is backed by more than 130,000 international troops. But a series of spectacular urban attacks in recent months, notably the bombing of the Indian Embassy and an armed assault on a parade reviewing stand where Karzai sat, have turned Kabul into a maze of a bunkers and barricades that drive officialdom ever further from the public.

In many regions a short drive from the capital, some of them considered safe even six months ago, residents and officials said the Taliban now control roads and villages, patrolling in trucks and recruiting new fighters. They execute government employees, bomb and burn cargo trucks on the highway, and search bus passengers for foreign passports and cellphones programmed with official numbers.

"Our staff members don't want to commute to the capital anymore," said Nader Nadery, an official of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. The Taliban are "creating an environment of fear, and it is working very well, because the people have no hope of being protected if they stand up against them," Nadery added.

Abdul Jabbar, a former anti-Soviet guerrilla commander and a member of parliament from Ghazni province, said he no longer dares visit his home district.

"The other day a Taliban commander called me and said I should come help him to free Afghanistan from the foreigners," Jabbar recounted. "I asked him, 'What do you want me to do? Kill a teacher? Kidnap an engineer? Capture a U.N. vehicle?' The people are not happy about the Taliban, but the government is weak, and the foreign forces have not brought us security. What choice do we have?"

In Wardak, the next province toward Kabul along a highway that is under constant Taliban attack, residents said they now ask relatives from the capital not to travel there for weddings or funerals.



Roshanak Wardak, the only private obstetrician in the region, said that starting last spring, Taliban leaders have recruited dozens of young men from her town.

"They take our innocent boys and tell them Islam is in danger," she said. "They offer them money and weapons. Now everyone is becoming a Talib. It is a great game, and they are the fuel."

As in Ghazni, many of the Taliban supporters in Wardak are Pashtuns, members of the country's largest ethnic group. They believe rival ethnic groups unfairly rule the country with the help of foreign soldiers. Though Karzai is a Pashtun, he is viewed in Taliban ranks as a traitor to his religion and community.

Once composed of largely illiterate fighters and clerics who shunned modern technology as un-Islamic, the Taliban now use a variety of high-tech means to communicate their version of events, often far faster than their adversaries.

This issue has crystallized with the controversy over civilian casualties inflicted by U.S. and NATO airstrikes, especially a village bombing last month near Herat in western Afghanistan. Although civilian deaths have been frequent and real, officials say the Taliban quickly broadcasts exaggerated tolls, stoking public anger, while foreign military officers may take days to respond.

Today's Taliban also has a much greater degree of formal organization. The old Taliban were disastrous at governing, and ministries were run by barefoot mullahs who scribbled orders on scraps of paper. The new Taliban structure has councils for each area of governance, appoints officials in controlled areas and confers swift justice for crimes and disputes.

Back to Top



Other Articles:

Afghan Warlord’s Call to Arms Rattles Officials
The New York Times (11/15/2012)

Afghanistan sees rise in ‘dancing boys’ exploitation
The Washington Post (09/09/2012)

Taliban opens office in Iran
Telegraph, UK (08/02/2012)

Top Afghans Tied to ’90s Carnage, Researchers Say
The New York Times (07/24/2012)

Afghanistan mining wealth thwarted by delays
The Wall Street Journal (07/05/2012)

Will civil war hit Afghanistan when the U.S. leaves?
The New Yorker (07/03/2012)

Afghan anti-corruption watchdog threatens to quit
The Guardian (12/14/2011)

Burhanuddin Rabbani: Life ruled by an ambition for power
The Guardian (09/27/2011)

Afghanistan Ground Situation Far From Reassuring
TIME (09/20/2011)

Counterinsurgency scorecard says Afghan War could go either way
Stars and Stripes (08/12/2011)

Afghanistan to be handed over to gangsters
The National Times (06/13/2011)

"U.S. can't leave Afghanistan until the 'criminal syndicate' government does"
CNN (06/12/2011)

Karzai Told to Dump U.S.
Wall Street Journal (04/29/2011)

The 1980s mujahideen, the Taliban and the shifting idea of jihad
The Guardian (04/29/2011)

AIDS In Afghanistan: Stigma Hampers Fight Against The Disease
Reuters (02/10/2011)

Our Man in Kandahar
The Atlantic (02/07/2011)

Red Cross says Afghan conditions worst in 30 years
Reuters (12/15/2010)

US lawmakers met with Karzai opponents over possible Taliban deal
McClatchy Newspapers (08/20/2010)

Iran's covert operations in Afghanistan
The Guardian (07/29/2010)

Afghan village force: Moving forward
The Hill (07/22/2010)

Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan...
Foreign Policy (05/29/2010)

Afghan tribal politics backfire on U.S. plan
The Washington Post (05/12/2010)

Iran to step up Afghan presence
PTI (04/15/2010)

How to End the War in Afghanistan
The New York Review of Books (04/12/2010)

The alienation of Hamid Karzai
Asia Times (04/01/2010)

When Barack met Hamid
The Economist (03/31/2010)

The Warlord's Tune: Afghanistan's war on children
ABC News, AU (03/03/2010)

Iran Again Accused of Trying to Halt Afghan Dam
IWPR (03/01/2010)

Battle for Marja not only militarily significant
The Washington Post (02/21/2010)

Racism amongst Afghans – so sick of it!
GlobalPost (01/15/2010)

Back to Top