War returns to Afghanistan
The fighting in Panjwayi in Afghanistan has sent up
to 3,000 people fleeing to Kandahar city for safety,
an International Organisation for Migration official said
The battle spreads in Afghanistan
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - The bulk of the fighting in Afghanistan in the past week, which has claimed more than 300 lives among the Taliban, US-led forces, the Afghan National Army (ANA) and civilians, has taken place in the southern Pashtun heartland of the country.Ooops. So what was Tommy Franks saying about victory? We don't have any extra troops to spare and we're gonna need them. Bush and Blair are transfiixed by Iraq and it seems that the Afghans are gearing up to kick us out.
However, the Taliban's spring offensive is fast turning into a massive resistance against the foreign presence all over Afghanistan, and already some influential characters are jockeying for a post-spring role.
And the indications are that the resistance could transcend a simple Taliban-led insurgency to evolve into a powerful Islamic movement.
Thousands of Taliban have emerged in the provinces of Helmand, Ghazni, Urgzan, Kandahar, Kunar and Zabul, and in all of them the story is the same: where allied forces have taken on the Taliban, the ANA holds the "fort". In places beyond the access of allied forces, the Taliban are in control.
In the less-populated Farah and Nimroze provinces, where the Taliban have a nominal presence, violent incidents against the ANA have begun. The same is true in western Herat province on the border with Iran.
Former acting Afghan premier Engineer Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai commented by telephone to Asia Times Online from Kabul, "There are now sporadic incidents of violence in northern Afghanistan. We are hearing news that rockets are being fired on coalition forces in Maidan Shahr [east of Kabul], and there have been incidents of bomb blasts and violence in the north. As to who is behind this, different people have different opinions. Some allege the Taliban, some allege Hizb-i-Islami-led [Gulbuddin] Hekmatyar and some call them unknown groups."
With regard to the "unknown groups", Asia Times Online spoke to a man who knows Afghan society and most of its characters inside out, former Pakistani army general and director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence Hamid Gul. Gul has for many years been associated with the various groups of the Afghan resistance, since the days it fought against the Soviets in the 1980s.
"Firstly, when this sort of mass resistance starts, it means that it is a collective decision of Afghans. So you can see that though the Taliban resistance is centered in a very specific area, sporadic incidents have erupted all over. To me, the Taliban may be one group, the HIA [Hizb-i-Islami] of Gulbuddin is a second and [Moulvi Yunus] Khalis' HIA would be another.
"But there are tribes as well who would be digging in against allied forces in their specific areas. This is a specific Afghan style of rebellion in which parties fight throughout Afghanistan under their flag, but the tribes restrict themselves to their areas. All fight for the same cause, but under their own disciplines. All fighting factions develop a sort of understanding with each other," Gul said
Contacts in the Pakistani tribal areas of Bajaur and North Waziristan tell Asia Times Online that at least seven different tribal jirgas (councils) are meeting on a daily basis among the Afghan population.
And Miranshah Bazaar in North Waziristan is once again full of posters of Osama bin Laden and Hekmatyar, while slogans are written in support of the Taliban.
The jirgas are unanimous: there should be all-out war in Afghanistan.
Why? Because we have most of our combat brigades in Afghanistan, and Rummy restricted the NATO combat role early on. Speed would have been our ally here and we gave it away. What's worse is this is the invisible second front, like Italy in WWII, people are dying,Osama does his radio show and the Taliban is planning their spring offensive.
posted by Steve @ 1:06:00 AM