pxl
bismellah


pixl

Home
News
Articles (New)
AfghanPedia

Contact Us


Why is America Failing in Afghanistan?

- DR. Abdul-Qayum Mohmand

Analysis of “CIA World Factbook” (1981-2012): Dimensions of anti-Pashtun Conspirac

Afghan Fury at Planned Pakistan Pact
What Happens When the U.S. Leaves Afghanistan?
Trying to leave Afghanistan proves to be as troublesome as being there: A Closer Look
Afghanistan: “It’s Just Damage Limitation Now”
Zero Dark Thirty Review-Analysis; Eleven Instances of Disinformation
Why is America Failing in Afghanistan?
 
 
 
US forces in Afghanistan nearly destroyed vital airfield
We Are Those Two Afghan Children, Killed by NATO While Tending Their Cattle
Former Islamist Warlord Vies for Afghan Presidency
Pakistan releases top Afghan Taliban prisoner in effort to boost peace process
Losing the War in Afghanistan
Obama’s troop increase for Afghan war was misdirected
Afghan security vacuum feared along "gateway to Kabul"
Objections to U.S. Troops Intensify in Afghanistan
The Great Afghan corruption scam
War zone killing: Vets feel 'alone' in their guilt
Was Osama for Real? And Was He Killed in 2001?
Afghanistan withdrawal: The risks of retreat
The Real Reason the US Invaded Afghanistan
The Definition of a Quagmire
Huge Uncertainty' in Afghanistan
Controversial ID Cards Expose Ethnic Divisions In Afghanistan
Afghanistan: The Final Curtain Call for NATO?
Afghanistan After 9/11: A Mission Unaccomplished
Why Should Taliban and Other Insurgents Refrain from Negotiation With the US & NATO? By: Dr Mohammed Daud Miraki, MA, MA, Ph

Exclusive: Karzai family looks to extend boss rule in Afghanistan.

Intrigue in Karzai Family as an Afghan Era Closes
For Afghans, Two Outrages, Two Different Reactions
Double blow to west’s Afghan strategy
Does the Taliban need a diplomatic voice?
Afghanistan: Lessons in War and Peace-building for US
Afghan women opposed by former allies
Q+A - Haqqani: From White House guest to staunch U.S. enemy
Haqqanis: Growth of a militant network -BBC
Afghanistan shelves plans for ambassador accused of fraud
Afghan nominated as ambassador to Britain was accused in US of fraud
U.S. deal with Taliban breaks down
The Loneliness of the Afghan President: Karzai on His Own

NATO's Third Alternative in Afghanistan

On the Road: Interview with Commander Abdul Haq:- The Tragedy of Abdul Haq
When the Lion Roared: How Abdul Haq Almost Saved Afghanistan
AFGHAN WARRIOR: THE LIFE & DEATH OF ABDUL HAQ
Pakistan’s ISI: Undermining Afghan self-determination since 1948
Mineral Wealth of Afghanistan, Military Occupation, Corruption and the Rights of the Afghan People
M. Siddieq Noorzoy
Why Isn’t the UN Investigating and Prosecuting the U.S. and NATO for War Crimes Committed in Afghanistan?
Corruption and Warlordism:
Abdul Basir Stanikzai
In Afghanistan, U.S. contracts aren’t crystal balls, but they come close
The great Afghan carve-up
Anatomy of an Afghan war tragedy
Terry Jones Actually Burns a Qur’an and No One Notices
Q+A-Are Afghan forces ready to take over security?
Guantánamo Bay files rewrite the story of Osama bin Laden's Tora Bora escape
Winning Afghan hearts, minds with explosives
Afghanistan’s Mercenaries
KABUL’S HORIZONS
Who is winning Afghanistan war? U.S. officials increasingly disagree
Afghanistan: The Trouble With The Transition
From the Archives: In Quest of a ‘Greater Tajikistan’
The 1980s mujahideen, the Taliban and the shifting idea of jihad
Afghanistan's Karzai complains about interference
Karzai, US ambassador at odds over private security

Karzai Tells Washington Post U.S. Should Reduce Afghan Operation Intensity

Excerpts from Afghan President Hamid Karzai's interview with The Washington Post
What the Afghans Want
New US approach to Afghanistan insurgency: Vindication for Pakistan?
Putting Some Fight Into Our Friends
Afghans 'abused at secret prison
Why We Won’t Leave Afghanistan or Iraq
Indo-Pakistan proxy war heats up in Afghanistan
Canada’s elite commandos and the invasion of Afghanistan
U.S. retreat from Afghan valley marks recognition of blunder
Five myths about the war in Afghanistan
Marine who resigned over ‘conscience’ speaks at MU
The Afghan media may have grown since Taliban rule ended, but not so press freedoms
Mystery holes and angry ants: another Afghan day
Kabul Bank's Sherkhan Farnood feeds crony capitalism in Afghanistan
Marjah War
Operation Moshtarak: Which way the war in Afghanistan?
Q&A: Why Marjah, why now?
In Jalalabad, hope is fading
Seeking reconciliation, US units meet remote Afghanistan tribes
Once Again, Get the Hell Out! "Ending the War in Afghanistan"
Blackwater Kept a Prostitute on the Payroll in Afghanistan; Fraudulently Billed American Tax Payers
Wild West Motif Lightens US Mood at Afghan Bas
In southern Afghanistan, even the small gains get noticed
 Afghanistan war: US tries to undercut Taliban at tribal level
 Soviet lessons from Afghanistan
Are actions of 'super-tribe' an Afghan tipping point
Taliban: Terrorist or not? Not always easy to say
Q&A: Who else could help in Afghanistan?
Vietnam Replay on Afghan 'Defectors'
Washington's Refusal to Talk about Drone Strikes in Pakistan Meets Growing Opposition
Afghanistan summit: Why is the US backing talks with the Taliban?
Taliban's leadership council runs Afghan war from Pakistan
Why buy the Taliban?
2 Afghanistan conferences: No solutions
An Alternative to Endless War - Negotiating an Afghan Agreement?
Do the Taliban represent the Pashtuns?
Afghanistan asks ex-presidential contender to tackle corruption

Tehran Sets Conditions For Attending London Conference On Afghanista

Pakistan says reaches out to Afghan Taliban
Taking It to the Taliban
The Afghan Taliban's top leaders
How significant is Mullah Baradar's arrest?
Secret Joint Raid Captures Taliban’s Top Commander
What's the Quetta Shura Taliban and why does it matter?
What's behind latest Taliban attack on Kabul? See Images of the Attack By WSJ

Pakistan Version of Islam and Taliban ?????
Lahore fashion week takes on Talibanization in Pakistan

Loyalties of Those Killed in Afghan Raid Remain Unclear

After Attack, Afghans Question Motives or See Conspiracies
Gates: Taliban part of Afghan ‘political fabric’

IG: Afghan power-plant project ill-conceived, mismanaged

Taliban intensifies Afghan PR campaign

Taliban Overhaul Their Image in Bid to Win Allies
Karzai plans to woo Taliban with 'land, work and pensions'
Peace scheme mooted for Taliban
Bombs and baksheesh
But By All Means, Continue the Happy Talk on the Afghanistan War
Karzai Closing in on Taliban Reconciliation Plan
Last Exit Kabul
How To Get Out Without Forsaking Afghanistan's Stability
Afghan Recovery Report: Taleban Buying Guns From Former Warlords

'Jesus Guns': Two More Countries Rethink Using Weapons with Secret Bible References

Gun bible quotes 'inappropriate'
Text of Joint declaration of Afghanistan-Iran-Pakistan trilateral meeting
Garmsir Protest Shows Taleban Reach
Rugged North Waziristan harbors US enemies
The Arrogance of Empire, Detailed ( The Untold Story of Afghanistan )
Appointment of Afghan counter narcotics chief dismays British officials
In Afghanistan attack, CIA fell victim to series of miscalculations about informant
Rebuilding Afghanistan: Will government take hold in this post-Taliban town?
Rare bird discovered in Afghan mountains
Blackwater, now called Xe, in running for work in Afghanistan despite legal woes
How Soviet troops stormed Kabul palace
Afghan children 'die in fighting'
Afghanistan war: Russian vets look back on their experience
U.N. Officials Say American Offered Plan to Replace Karzai 
Learning From the Soviets
U.S. faults Afghan corruption body's independence
Intensify fight against corruption, says Afghan meeting
Afghan ministers cleared of charges
Drone aircraft in a stepped-up war in Afghanistan and Pakistan
U.S. Air Force Confirms 'Beast of Kandahar' Secret Stealth Drone Plane
Kissinger's fantasy is Obama's realit
Taliban shadow officials offer concrete alternative
Talking with the Taliban
20. Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart
'Yes, there was torture and people were certainly beaten': Afghan warden
Why we should leave Afghanistan
US pours millions into anti-Taliban militias in Afghanistan
Pakistan to US: Don't surge in Afghanistan, talk to Taliban
A Plan C for Afghanistan
Finding decent cabinet is Karzai's big challenge
A way to get around Karzai in Afghanistan
Corruption fight boosted by 'Afghan FBI'
US demands Afghan 'bribery court'
Afghanistan plans court for corrupt ministers
The man leading Afghanistan's anti-corruption fight
Win hearts and minds in Afghanistan to win the war
Gates blocks abuse photos release
New U.S. Afghan prison unveiled, rights groups wary
War in Afghanistan: Not in our name
How the US Funds the Taliban
Afghan gov't says UN representative out of line
Cabinet of Warlords
Afghanistan and the lessons of history
Clinton says Karzai ‘must do better’
Recognizing the Limits of American Power in Afghanistan
After Afghanistan election, governors seek distance from 'illegal' Karzai
Karzai was hellbent on victory. Afghans will pay the price
Matthew Hoh: Please refute what I'm saying, we are stuck in the Afghan civil war
As US looks for exit in Afghanistan, China digs in
America's Top Diplomat Tells 'Nightline': 'Not Every Taliban Is al Qaeda'
Obama Can’t Make Russian Mistake in Afghanistan
10 Steps to Victory in Afghanistan
Will Obama change Afghan strategy?
Does the U.S. still have a vital interest in Afghanistan?
Pashtuns and Pakistani
The Afghan '80s are back
Pashtun peace prophet goes global
Afghan Road Builder's Dream Thwarted by Violence
A white elephant in Kabul
The Afghan Runoff: Will It Be a No-Show Election?

Ashraf Ghani- Afghanistan's Disputed Election Complicates U.S. Strategy

On Assignment: Into the Maw at Marja

Patrick Witty & Tyler Hicks
The New York Times


Afghanistan Cross Road CNN


The last frontier


Bruce Richardson
 

Articles

CIA: Buying peace in Afghanistan?

With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan
CIA Ghost Money: Karzai Confirms U.S. Gives Funds To Afghan National Security Team
What the CIA’s cash has bought for Afghanistan

Khalilzad: A Satan Whispering in the Hearts of Men
The Afghan trust deficitt
Will We Learn Anything from Afghanistan? Part 1
Getting Out of Afghanistan: Part 2
William R. Polk
General’s Defense on Afghan Scandal Ducks Key Evidence
Afghans want Taliban peace talks
Bombing Weddings in Afghanistan: It Couldn't Happen Here, It Does Happen There
Hekmatyar's never-ending Afghan war
Covert American Aid to the Afghan Resistance; A Top-Secret U.S. Foreign Policy Plot to Induce and Effect Soviet Military Intervention
Afghan brain drain fears as Karzai urges education reforms

US considers launching joint US-Afghan raids in Pakistan to hunt down militant groups

Real security in Afghanistan depends on people's basic needs being met
Intractable Afghan Graft Hampering U.S. Strategy
Former Taliban Officials Say U.S. Talks Started
Taliban ready for talks with US, not Karzai government
Emboldened Taliban Try to Sell Softer Image
Leaked NATO Report Shows Pakistan Support For Taliban
Insight: Few options for Afghan, U.S. leaders after Kandahar massacre
Presenter: Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Daoud Sultanzoy, Tolo Television
NATO’s measured exit plan in Afghanistan faces new obstacles
BFP Exclusive: Karzai Clan Attorney Threatens US Journalist, Uses Intimidation Tactics
Afghanistan Chronicles
Arduous path to Afghan 'end-game'
Fear in the classrooms: is the Taliban poisoning Afghanistan's schoolgirls?
A comment on the recent events of student poisoning in Afghanistan
Rape Case, in Public, Cites Abuse by Armed Groups in Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s Peace Talks Hit Brick Wall
THE ANATOMY OF US’S DEFEAT IN AFGHANISTAN
VOICES OF EMPIRE: FROM CIA’s CULTURAL GREAT GAME TO GLOBAL GREAT GAME TODAY
WHITE PAPER FOR THE PERMANENT PEACE IN AFGHANISTAN
King Karzai
A Federal System of Government is Not Suitable for Afghanistan
CHINA AMO DARYA OIL DEAL
Analysis: Where Afghan humanitarianism ends and development begins
U.S. Envoy: Kabulbank Was 'Vast Looting Scheme'
Speaking with the enemy: how US commanders fight the Taliban during the day and dine with them at night
Afghanistan: Operation Enduring Musery
How to Win Peace in Afghanistan
For Karzai, Stumbles On Road To Election
Cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace
Criticism of Afghan War Is on the Rise in Britain
Troops 'fighting for UK's future'
Operation in Taliban hotbed a test for revamped U.S. strategy
Covering Crucial Afghanistan Operation
Afghans still skeptical about Obama
US Defence Department struggling with public release of report on bombing in Afghanistan
Afghanistan on the Edge
Q+A: Who are the Pakistani Taliban insurgents?
Afghanistan Past & Present
Bombs for Pashtoons and Dollars for Punjab
Help! I'm being outgunned on K Street!
ANGELS CHASING DEMONS: “Jesus Killed Mohammad”!
U.S. tested 2 Afghan scenarios in war game
America's Top Diplomat Tells 'Nightline': 'Not Every Taliban Is al Qaeda'
Obama hearing range of views on Afghanistan
What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace
Will Obama change Afghan strategy?
What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace
Afghans tricked into U.S. trip, detained
In the Afghan War, Aim for the Middle
Obama pulled two ways in Afghanistan
Obama Can’t Make Russian Mistake in Afghanistan
10 Steps to Victory in Afghanistan
Gates: Mistake to set time line for Afghan withdrawal
Afghans question what democracy has done for them
High stakes in Afghan vote recount
Two Perspectives On Resolving The Afghan Postelection Crisis
Does the U.S. still have a vital interest in Afghanistan?
Pashtuns and Pakistanis
The Afghan '80s are back
How to Lose in Afghanistan
US in Afghanistan proposes revamped strategy
US 'needs fresh Afghan strategy'
US looks to Vietnam for Afghan tips
Lessons from Vietnam on Afghanistan
Afghan Pres. Skips Country's 1st TV Debate
A proud moment for Afghanistan
Rival to Karzai Gains Strength in Afghan Presidential Election
Afghan presidential candidate withdraws in Karzai's favor
America and international law
Hamid Karzai pulls out of historic TV debate just hours before broadcast
Karzai says no to first Afghanpresidential debate
Afghan election: Can Karzai's rivals close the gap?
Karzai opponents hope to beat him in second round
Afghanistan's Election Challenges
For Karzai, Stumbles On Road To Election
Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
Cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace
Karzai’s gimmick
Well-known traffickers set free ahead of election
US president sets Afghan target
U.S. Inaction Seen After Taliban P.O.W.’s Died
Why the Pentagon Axed Its Afghanistan Warlord
Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
The Irresistible Illusion
Running Out Of Options, Afghans Pay For an Exit
We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Operation in Taliban hotbed a test for revamped U.S. strategy
Covering Crucial Afghanistan Operation
Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
Echoes of Vietnam
A Response To General Dostum
Obama orders probe of killings in Afghanistan
Obama admin: No grounds to probe Afghan war crimes
US president sets Afghan target
U.S. Inaction Seen After Taliban P.O.W.’s Died
Afghanistan's Election Challenges
The Irresistible Illusion
Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
Running Out Of Options, Afghans Pay For an Exit

We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan

The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Stakes High in Afghanistan Ahead of August Elections
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
Ex-detainees allege Bagram abuse
Petraeus Is a Failure -- Why Do We Pretend He's Been a Success?
Fierce Battles and High Casualties on the Frontlines of Afghanistan
End the Illegal, Immoral and Wasted War in Afghanistan, says BNP Defence Spokesman
Outside View: Four revolutions
Pakistan's Plans for New Fight Stir Concern
France: liberty, equality, and fraternity – but no burqas
 

 

 

 

 

Echoes of Vietnam

Even the Coalition commanders in Afghanistan wonder if they can win the war
Will history repeat itself in Afghanistan?

British military intervention in Afghanistan has a chequered history, making it easy to conclude that British forces will fail again


 


Taking It to the Taliban
Source: Time By: Bobby Ghosh  

Two days before launching the most ambitious military campaign of the Obama Administration, General Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, convened a meeting in Kabul of 450 tribal elders and scholars from Helmand province. The general's objective: to build support for Operation Moshtarak, a massive offensive on the Taliban stronghold of Marjah. McChrystal ran through the military phase of the plan, which would involve 6,000 U.S. Marines and British soldiers and 4,500 Afghan troops and police. Then he described how these troops would protect the town while a "government in a box" — a corps of Afghan officials who had been training for this moment for months — would start administering the town. The elders all signed off on the plan, but not before one of them warned the American general, "You have to understand that if you don't do what you say, we'll all be killed."

McChrystal repeated the chieftain's words Feb. 18 in a secure video teleconference with President Barack Obama and his top advisers on Afghanistan and Pakistan. By then, the operation, by all accounts, was going well. NATO troops had encountered only sporadic resistance; much of the town was under the control of the U.S. Marines. British-led forces, meanwhile, had taken the nearby community of Showal. Some government in a box was already being unpacked.

There was good news from other fronts too. In Pakistan, a joint operation in Karachi by the CIA and Pakistan's own spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had netted a very big fish: Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Afghan Taliban's military chief. In quick succession, the ISI had also rolled up two of the Taliban's "shadow" governors of Afghanistan's provinces and another senior figure. And in North Waziristan, near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, a missile launched from a CIA drone had struck at the heart of the Haqqani network, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group responsible for countless attacks on NATO troops. The network's current leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, survived, but his younger brother Mohammed had been killed.

After a year of mostly grim tidings from Afghanistan and Pakistan, Obama could have been allowed a moment of satisfaction. But McChrystal's recounting of the Helmand chieftain's warning ensured that the mood in the White House's Situation Room during the conference call was somber. According to National Security Adviser Jim Jones, who was there, Obama added an exhortation of his own, using the idioms of counterinsurgency warfare. "Do not clear and hold what you are not willing to build and transfer," he told McChrystal, a maxim he had repeated often over the previous months. "You've heard me say it many times, but it bears repeating," Obama said as he signed off.

That sense of restraint is at the heart of Obama's "AfPak" strategy, which requires McChrystal's troops to help Afghans build and take increasing responsibility for their country, rather than depending solely on Western forces to thump the Taliban. Marjah is the first real test of that plan, and the Administration is determined to keep everyone's expectations to the bare minimum. That is wise, as much could still go wrong. The Taliban could return to areas from which it has been ousted; the Afghan army could turn out to be too slim a reed on which to hang the Administration's ambitions. And so, in contrast to the Bush Administration, which was often accused of overstating small successes, the Obama White House has projected a studied solemnity over encouraging dispatches from the war the President has made his own. Every sign of progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been greeted with circumspection. Yes, say Administration officials in Washington and commanders in the field, things are going well — but let's not beat our chests. Far too much hangs in the balance now: Afghan lives, American lives and, just possibly, the fate of Obama's war.

Making Marjah Count

A town of 60,000 souls, Marjah is ringed by poppy fields that are watered by irrigation canals built in the 1950s and '60s by U.S. engineers. McChrystal chose this location to launch the reconquest of Afghanistan because it is the western end of a population belt that extends from central Helmand province through Kandahar province — both infested with the Taliban. McChrystal has set out to secure that belt, starting in Marjah, then moving to Lashkar Gah, Kandahar city and finally Spin Boldak. "It's where we hadn't been, it's where the enemy still was, and it's where the population is," says a senior Administration official.

Since it's an opening salvo in what promises to be a long, hard-fought year, McChrystal knew Operation Moshtarak would influence perceptions, among allies and enemies alike, about how the war would be fought — and how the peace would be waged. Managing those perceptions would be key to victory. "This is not a physical war, in terms of how many people we kill or how much ground you capture, how many bridges you blow up," he told reporters in Istanbul on Feb. 4. "This is all in the minds of the participants. The Afghan people are the most important, but the insurgents are [too]. And of course, part of what we've had to do is convince ourselves and our Afghan partners that we can do this."

The offensive was months in the planning, and little effort was made to keep it secret. If the Taliban chose to melt away rather than resist, McChrystal reasoned, it would give him more time to set up a robust administration — a good advertisement for those in other towns where NATO troops would soon have to fight. U.S. commanders even ordered an opinion poll of Marjah residents: they wanted to know how they felt about the U.S. and the Taliban and to gauge what they might want from his government in a box.

When the operation got under way, it quickly became clear that only about 400 Taliban had dug in to fight. As in other such encounters between an overwhelming Western military and a local insurgency — in Iraq's Diyala province, for instance — the greatest threat to the troops came from roadside bombs and sniper fire. By Feb. 23, 13 NATO troops had been killed, as the U.S. total in the Afghan war pushed past 1,000. Estimates of Taliban casualties were around 120. Civilian casualties were low for such an intense offensive: 28 were killed in the fighting, though as the operation progressed, there was some bad news when a pair of air strikes, one near Marjah, killed 39 civilians.

As pockets of resistance continued, commanders downplayed expectations of a speedy campaign. "I guess it will take us another 25 to 30 days to be entirely sure that we have secured that which needs to be secured," British Major General Nick Carter, the top NATO commander in southern Afghanistan, told reporters on Feb. 18. "And we probably won't know for about 120 days whether or not the population is entirely convinced by the degree of commitment that their government is showing to them." If McChrystal's forces prevail, Operation Moshtarak will serve as the template for the far more challenging battle this summer, the battle for Kandahar. With nearly 500,000 people, it is the Taliban's spiritual capital. The city is nominally under NATO control, but there are reportedly thousands of Taliban in and around it — and every expectation that many will make a bloody stand.

The Pakistani Play

Under normal circumstances, in planning his offensive McChrystal would have had to keep a close watch on Afghanistan's difficult neighbor. Pakistan's support for the Taliban and the Haqqani network has frequently bedeviled U.S. military plans, as Afghan fighters have too easily slipped across the border and found sanctuary. But a year's worth of diplomatic pressure on Islamabad began to pay off before Operation Moshtarak: Pakistan launched a major military offensive of its own in South Waziristan, not against the Afghan Taliban but against its Pakistani cousins known as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan or TTP.

The Pakistani change of heart had been a long time coming. It was influenced by the TTP's bloody campaign of suicide attacks in Pakistani cities, often targeting military and ISI compounds. "I can remember anecdotally where we had questions for our team in Pakistan at one point and they couldn't get a hold of their ISI counterparts because they were too busy attending funerals of their key leadership," says a U.S. counterterrorism official. This, along with the militants' brazen capture of a town some 40 miles (65 km) from the Pakistani capital last spring, did more than any American finger-wagging to convince Islamabad that the TTP needed to be taken down. The U.S. helped by mounting drone strikes on TTP leaders, killing its founder, Baitullah Mehsud, last summer and possibly his successor, Hakimullah Mehsud, in January.

Even so, Pakistani cooperation in the arrest of Baradar, on the eve of the Marjah assault, was an unexpected bonus for McChrystal. Why did Pakistan roll up Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar's deputy? Islamabad has previously arrested senior figures in the Afghan Taliban, but they've typically been released quickly, without U.S. officials being given access to them. But the Pakistanis made an exception with Baradar, who may have a treasure trove of information on the Taliban. Possibly the Pakistanis were under pressure to reciprocate for the U.S. strikes on the Mehsuds. Or perhaps Baradar had fallen out with Omar and was trying to open a direct channel for peace talks to the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, bypassing his hosts. By taking Baradar out of circulation, Pakistan may be making a case to be given a seat in eventual peace negotiations.

Whatever the reason, his arrest doesn't represent a sea change in Pakistan's attitude toward its longtime clients in the Afghan Taliban, say White House officials with responsibility for Pakistan and Afghanistan. While Washington views the TTP, the Haqqani network, al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban as all part of the same terrorist syndicate, Islamabad is concerned mainly about the TTP's legions of suicide bombers. Nor is the effect of Baradar's arrest on the top Taliban leadership yet clear. If he had indeed broken with Omar, then the group has most likely replaced him already. The Taliban was able to shake off the 2007 killing of its top commander, Mullah Dadullah, by NATO forces. "The Taliban are used to this," says Waheed Muzhda, a former Taliban official. "When Mullah Dadullah was killed, some people thought that the Taliban would give up. But it didn't happen, because the Taliban are waging an ideological war, and in an ideological war, this kind of thing doesn't have a big impact."

Another bonus for McChrystal: in Operation Moshtarak, he has not had to contend with al-Qaeda. For many months now, Osama bin Laden's once feared legions have been consigned to the margins of the fighting in Afghanistan. Their numbers have dwindled from 500 to 100, says National Security Adviser Jones. In Pakistan they continue to enjoy the protection of the TTP and the Haqqani network but have effectively been pinned down by the CIA's drones. "Neither in Afghanistan nor in Pakistan is al-Qaeda at the tactical front edge," says a senior Administration official. Al-Qaeda remains the strategic reason for the current fighting; one of Obama's grounds for staying the course in Afghanistan is to prevent bin Laden from re-establishing safe havens there. But the only area of real military activity against al-Qaeda at the moment is in North Waziristan, where the Pakistani military is not active. The U.S. is doing the attacking, primarily with drones.

To some effect. There have been 17 strikes by unmanned aircraft in Pakistani territory thus far this year, according to the Long War Journal, a nonprofit online publication that tracks such attacks. The spike was triggered in part by a Dec. 30 suicide attack that killed seven CIA officials at an Afghan outpost. The Haqqani network and Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud apparently aided the suicide bomber; some reports say Mehsud was wounded, possibly killed, in a Jan. 14 strike. Meanwhile, the remote-control pilots operating Predators and Reapers continue to peer at their video screens, hoping to catch sight of a very tall, thin, bearded man emerging from a hideout.

Skepticism Makes Sense

Well-informed analysts know to keep the champagne on ice. At a conference at Tufts University last week attended by experts on Afghanistan, not a single optimistic take on that nation's long-standing problems could be heard. One comment became a refrain: "I have no doubt that peace will one day come to Afghanistan, but I can't say if it will be in 50 or 200 years," a speaker said. "What I can say is that at the rate we are going now, it's unlikely to be any sooner than that."

There was skepticism in Marjah too. Abdul Hadi, a student, fled the fighting along with his family on Feb. 18; now living in Lashkar Gah, he is in no hurry to return. He worries that many Taliban are just waiting for the NATO forces to move on to their next target. "I know the Taliban will come back," he says. Mohammad Hosain, a teacher from Marjah, wonders if they even left. "The Taliban does not have a uniform, so if they leave their weapons at home, they can easily move around," he says. "There is no [sign] on their face that says, 'I am a Talib.' "

People like Hadi and Hosain came by their skepticism the hard way: they have seen foreign forces defeat the Taliban in Helmand, then pull out, then repeat the cycle. The town of Musa Qala, north of Marjah, has twice been taken by NATO arms: by British and Danish forces in 2006 and by the U.S. in 2007. On both occasions, a new local government was created, and each time, the Taliban returned to murder those it deemed collaborators.

To prevent that from happening in Marjah, McChrystal is counting on his government in a box — a lineup of administrators who have prepped for months — to enforce law and order, provide basic facilities, build schools, create jobs and persuade local farmers to give up the poppy crop. But that's asking a lot from officials who have shown scant aptitude for doing a decent job elsewhere. McChrystal's plan calls for 80 prepacked governments to take root across Taliban-ruled territory over two years, but Afghanistan simply doesn't have that many clean, qualified and experienced bureaucrats, policemen, doctors and teachers. Besides, parachuting officials into former Taliban strongholds may be self-defeating; Pashtuns rarely trust anybody outside their own tribe and clan. It can hardly be reassuring to the residents of Marjah that their newly appointed mayor, Haji Zahir, has only recently returned from 15 years of living in Germany.

Even if McChrystal's officials are a huge success, two other crucial planks in Obama's plan to start pulling U.S. forces from Afghanistan in mid-2011 already look worm-eaten. One is the creation of a legitimate, reliable government in Kabul: since Karzai's contentious election late last year, Afghanistan's President has shown little inclination to ditch his corrupt cronies. Nor is there yet an Afghan security force capable of taking over from the Americans. Although U.S. commanders carefully talk up the contributions of the 4,500 Afghan National Army soldiers (two had been killed) and police in the Marjah operation, it's no secret that the U.S. Marines and British troops are doing the heavy lifting. McChrystal's target of a 134,000-man Afghan National Army by late fall — up from 104,000 now — seems hopelessly optimistic. Training is slow, and there's a scarcity in the ranks of southern Pashtuns, who are needed the most in the Taliban's strongholds.

Across the border, Pakistan's continuing support for American efforts is far from assured. Right now, Islamabad's immediate interests may coincide with Washington's, but they can just as quickly diverge, especially on the question of what to do about the Taliban's core leadership. The U.S. is adamant that it will not negotiate with Omar unless he parts ways with bin Laden. "There's a clear red line," says Richard Holbrooke, special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. "They must renounce al-Qaeda." American officials are also determined to root out the Haqqani network, which they regard as the greatest danger to NATO troops. Pakistani officials, on the other hand, view the Taliban and the Haqqanis as strategic assets and believe both should have a role in Afghanistan after the NATO withdrawal. They point out that many Afghans still regard Omar as a legitimate figure — more so, in fact, than Karzai, who is seen as an American puppet. Without Omar's endorsement, they think, any peace negotiations will be fatally flawed.

Islamabad's long-standing nightmare remains: that when the Americans go, its neighbors — especially India, Pakistan's hated rival — will be influential in Kabul. The Taliban and the Haqqanis are insurance against such an eventuality. Baradar's detention has not yet changed Pakistan's assessment of how its own interests may best be defended. Remember, too, that no matter how well Operation Moshtarak seems to be going, many Taliban commanders think they are winning. Whatever happens in Marjah, they can point to a widening influence across Afghanistan. They also have been heartened by last week's announcement that the 2,000-strong Dutch contingent will be departing this year because Holland's coalition government was unable to agree on an extension of its deployment — another indication of how unpopular the Afghan war is in the nations whose troops are fighting it.

Mullah Omar and his colleagues, taking Obama on his word that he wants to begin a U.S. pullout by July 2011, have said they intend to outlast the occupiers. If that means ceding strongholds like Marjah only to pop up elsewhere, then that's what they will do. They have been doing it for years. Call it insurgency in a box.

— With reporting by Mark Thompson, Massimo Calabresi and Michael Scherer / Washington, Tim McGirk / Islamabad, Aryn Baker / Boston and Shah Barakzai / Kabul


What's the Quetta Shura Taliban and why does it matter?
Source: The Christian Science Monitor By: David Clark Scott  

Pakistani officials arrested half the Afghan Taliban leadership – 7 of 15 members of the Quetta Shura Taliban - including the Taliban commander in charge of stopping the US troop surge in southern Afghanistan. What is the Quetta Shura and why might these arrests be critical to the war in Afghanistan?

The arrest of half the Afghan Taliban leadership – 7 of 15 members of the Quetta Shura – in Pakistan may be indicative of a kind of pincer movement. While a US led coalition takes on Quetta Shura Taliban ground troops in southern Afghanistan, Pakistani authorities are sweeping up key leaders in Pakistan.

Anand Gopal broke the story of the scale of the arrests earlier today, and he included that Pakistan had captured Mullah Abdul Qayoum Zakir - you can read the story here.

But perhaps we failed to sufficiently highlight how important Mullah Zakir is to the fight in southern Afghanistan.

"He's the Taliban's military commander in southern Afghanistan. He's in charge of heading off the American surge in the south. If it's true that he's been captured, his removal from the battlefield is serious" says Jeffrey Dressler at the Institute for the Study of War.

Zakir has also been the key liaison between the Quetta Shura Taliban and the other Taliban groups and Al Qaeda, says Dressler. "He's the guy that the QST sent to high-level meetings. He's a jihadist with Guantánamo credentials," he says.

But Dressler is also skeptical that Zakir has been captured. "I'm shocked that the Pakistanis haven't made big news with this," he says.

What's the Quetta Shura?
The Quetta Shura is one of three key Taliban groups, as the Long War Journal noted recently: The Quetta Shura, the Haqqani Network, and the forces of Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin.

The Monitor's own look at some of these Taliban groups can be found here.

While these Taliban groups sometimes coordinate their efforts, in southern Afghanistan – especially in the Helmand River valley – the primary threat to security is the Quetta Shura Taliban (QST).

Here's how Dressler and Carl Forsberg at the Institute for the Study of War describe the QST (a pdf of their January report on the QST can be downloaded here):

The Quetta Shura Taliban, whose operations have systematically spread from southern Afghanistan to the west and north of the country, is by far the most active enemy group in Afghanistan. Virtually all enemy groups operating in the country have sworn allegiance (in varying degrees) to the Taliban’s leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

The senior leadership in Quetta … provides direction, guidance.The Quetta-based senior leaders also adjust the campaign as it unfolds if major changes in mission or resources are required. For example, senior leaders in Quetta have issued such requests for reinforcements when coalition and Afghan forces launch operations into critical enemy terrain. This type of guidance allows the Quetta-based leadership to identify its priorities to Afghan-based and sometimes is sues direct orders to the senior commanders in the south.

Senior commanders physically travel to Quetta on occasion to meet with QST senior leadership. These visits are arranged to share “best practices” and “lessons learned” to improve operational effectiveness. Communication between Quetta senior leadership and commanders in Afghanistan is not limited to face-to-face inter action, however. Raids on various compounds throughout the region have netted scores of satellite telephones and two-way radios, suggesting that communication between commanders in and out of the south is commonplace.

Helmand is where the focus of the US troop surge is. Prior to 2009, the ISAF had 7,000 troops in the valley. The number is expected to grow to more than 25,000.

The NATO offensive in Marjah, and the expected offensive coming this summer in Kandahar, are aimed at the heart of the Quetta Shura Taliban.

Similarly the arrests of key members of the Quetta Shura may indicate that the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies are now, in effect, supporting the military effort in southern Afghanistan.

The Quetta Shura – the senior leadership council once based in the western Pakistan city of Quetta – was once comprised of some 20 members. Now, that figure is believed to be down to about 15. It is led by Mullah Muhammad Omar, who set up headquarters in Quetta in 2002. He based the QST on the Supreme Shura, the Taliban council that ran Afghanistan prior to the US invasion in 2001. He continues to see the QST as the legitimate government of Afghanistan and has set up shadow government offices in various provinces.

And while the senior leadership may still sneak back to Quetta for meetings, most of the QST leaders have scattered from there.

An email this morning from Pakistani reporter Behroz Khan says:

Some pro-Kabul Afghan officials in Peshawar have said, on condition of anonymity. that the Quetta Shura has been shifted to Karachi due to fear of [CIA-operated] drone attacks. A similar comment was made by the governor of Kunduz Province, Muhammad Omar last week: the Taliban leaders residing in Quetta and runnning a shadow cabinet have been shifted to Karachi, with the consent of Pakistani officials – a charge which has not been confirmed or rejected by Pakistani officials so far.

The arrest of Quetta Shura leaders – some in Karachi – indicates that their location was no secret to Pakistani intelligence agencies.

The question that many in Western intelligence agencies are asking is: Why has Pakistan apparently turned on the group it has long supported?

The US has sought this for years, why now?

And if Pakistan can nab the No. 2 QST and Mullah Zakir, and half a dozen others, will they capture Mullah Omar too?


The Afghan Taliban's top leaders
Source: Longwar Journal By: Bill Roggio  

Over the past two months, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency has captured four senior leaders of the Afghan Taliban, including Mullah Omar's deputy who served as the head of the top shura, the leader of a regional shura, and two shadow governors. These captures, combined with the US-led offensive in Helmand which will expand into Kandahar and the Afghan East later this year, have given rise to reports of the potential collapse of the group.

The Afghan Taliban's leadership council and its regional shuras and committees have weathered the capture and death of senior leaders in the past. The Taliban have a deep bench of leaders with experience ranging back to the rise of the Taliban movement in the early 1990s. On prior occasions, younger commanders are known to have stepped into the place of killed or captured leaders. It remains to be seen if the sustained US offensive and possible future detentions in Pakistan will grind down the Taliban's leadership cadre.

This report looks at the Afghan Taliban's top leadership council, the Quetta shura; its four regional military councils; the 10 committees; and existing as well as killed or captured members of the shura. Because the Taliban is a deliberately opaque movement, it is difficult to gain real-time intelligence on the structure of the Taliban command. The following information on the structure of the Taliban and its key leaders has been gathered from press reports and studies on the Taliban, and from discussions with US intelligence officials.

The Afghan Taliban leadership council

The Afghan Taliban leadership council, or rahbari shura, is often referred to as the Quetta Shura, as it is based in the Pakistani city of the same name. The Quetta Shura provides direction to the four regional military shuras and the 10 committees. The Quetta Shura is ultimately led by Mullah Mohammed Omar, the ‘leader of the faithful,’ who is the top leader of the Taliban, but Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar directed the Quetta Shura. Baradar was the Afghan Taliban's second in command and the group's operational commander who was detained in Karachi sometime in January or February 2010. Over the past several months, members of the Quetta Shura have been reported to be relocating to Karachi to avoid potential US airstrikes.

Regional military shuras

The Afghan Taliban have assigned regional military shuras for four major geographical areas of operations. The shuras are named after the areas in which they are based; note that all four of the regional military shuras are based in Pakistan (Quetta, Peshawar, Miramshah in North Waziristan, and Gerdi Jangal in Baluchistan).

  • Quetta Regional Military Shura - This military shura, like the Taliban’s top council, takes its name from its base in the city of Quetta in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. The Quetta Regional Military Shura directs activities in southern and western Afghanistan. It is currently led by Hafez Majid.
  • Peshawar Regional Military Shura - Based in the city of Peshawar in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, the Peshawar Regional Military Shura directs activities in eastern and northeastern Afghanistan. Abdul Latif Mansur is thought to currently lead the Peshawar shura. It was led by Maulvi Abdul Kabir before his arrest in Pakistan in February 2010.
  • Miramshah Regional Military Shura - Based in Miramshah, the main town in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan, the Miramshah Regional Military Shura directs activities in southeastern Afghanistan, including the provinces of Paktika, Paktia, Khost, Logar, and Wardak. The Miramshah Regional Military Shura is led by Siraj Haqqani, the son of Jalaluddin Haqqani.
    • Gerdi Jangal Regional Military Shura - Based in the Gerdi Jangal refugee camp in Baluchistan, this regional military shura focuses exclusively on Helmand Province and perhaps Nimroz province. The Gerdi Jangal Regional Military Shura is led by Mullah Adbul Zakir.

The 10 committees

Along with the four regional commands, the Afghan Taliban have 10 committees which address specific issues. Some of the members of the committees are also members of the Quetta Shura.

  • Military - This committee was led by Mullah Nasir, the former shadow governor of Ghazni. It is not clear who currently leads the military committee.
  • Ulema Council - Also known as the religious committee, it is currently led by Mawlawi Abdul Ali.
  • Finance - This committee is led by Abdulhai Mutma’in.
  • Political Affairs - This committee is reported to have been led by Maulvi Abdul Kabir before his capture in February 2010. His replacement is not yet known.
  • Culture and Information - This committee, which deals with Taliban propaganda, is led by Amir Khan Mutaqqi.
  • Interior Affairs - This committee is led by Mullah Abdul Jalil.
  • Prisoners and Refugees - This committee is led by Mawlawi Wali Jan.
  • Education - This committee is led by Mawlawi Ahmad Jan, however it may have been disbanded.
  • Recruitment - This committee was led by Mullah Ustad Mohammad Yasir before he was arrested in Peshawar in January 2009. Yasir’s replacement is not known.
  • Repatriation Committee - This committee is led Mullah Abdul Zakir.

Known active members of the Quetta Shura

The list below consists of the known members of the Quetta Shura. There may be additional members who are not listed, while some leaders on this list may no longer be on the shura.

  • Hafiz Abdul Majeed is the current leader of the Quetta Regional Military Shura. He served as the Taliban’s intelligence chief.
  • Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund was the governor of Kandahar and the Minister of Foreign Affairs during Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
  • Mullah Mohammad Hassan Rehmani is considered to be very close to Mullah Omar. Rehmani has been described as his "shadow." He was the governor of Kandahar province during the reign of the Taliban.
  • Mullah Abdul Qayum Zakir is the head of the Gerdi Jangal Regional Military Shura (Helmand and Nimroz provinces) and the Taliban's ‘surge’ commander in the South. Zakir is a former detainee of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba who currently serves as the Taliban’s ‘surge commander’ in the Afghan South.
  • Amir Khan Muttaqi is the chief of the Information and Culture Committee.
  • Siraj Haqqani is the leader of the Miramshah Regional Military Shura and the commander of the Haqqani Network. He is also the Taliban’s regional governor of Paktika, Paktia, and Khost.
  • Mullah Mohammad Rasul was the governor of Nimroz province during the reign of the Taliban.
  • Abdulhai Mutma’in is the chief of the Finance Committee. His served as a minister during the Taliban regime.
  • Abdul Latif Mansur is the commander of the Abdul Latif Mansur Network in Paktika, Paktia, and Khost. He serves on the Miramshah Shura and was the former Minister of Agriculture for the Taliban regime. Mansur is thought to lead the Peshawar Regional Military Shura.
  • Mullah Abdur Razzaq Akhundzada is the former corps commander for northern Afghanistan. He also served as the Taliban regime’s Interior Minister.
  • Maulvi Hamdullah is the Taliban representative for the Gulf region. Hamdullah is considered to have been since 1994 one of Mullah Omar's most confidential aides. In addition, Hamdullah led the Finance Department in Kandahar during Taliban rule from 1994 until November 2001.
  • Maulvi Qudratullah Jamal runs an investigative committee that deals with complaints from Afghan citizens against local Taliban personnel. Jamal also operates as a liaison to the Taliban's global supporters. He served as the Taliban’s chief of propaganda from 2002-2005.
  • Maulvi Aminullah is the Taliban commander for Uruzgan province.
  • Mullah Abdul Jalil is the head of the Taliban's Interior Affairs Committee.
  • Qari Talha is the chief of Kabul operations for the Taliban.
  • Sheikh Abdul Mana Niyazi is the Taliban shadow governor for Herat province.

Shura and committee members killed or captured:

  • Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar directed the Quetta Shura. Baradar was the Afghan Taliban's second in command and the group's operational commander, and was detained in Karachi sometime in January or February 2010.
  • Maulvi Abdul Kabir led the Peshawar Regional Military Council before he was captured by Pakistani intelligence in February 2010. He served as the Taliban's former shadow governor of the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, as well as the governor of Nangarhar during the Taliban’s reign.
  • Mullah Mir Mohammed served as the shadow governor in the northern province of Baghlan. He was detained in February 2010.
  • Mullah Abdul Salam served as the shadow governor in the northern province of Kunduz. He was detained in February 2010.
  • Mullah Dadullah Akhund was the Taliban’s top military commander in the South. He was killed in May 2007 by British special forces in Helmand province.
  • Akhtar Mohammad Osmani was a member of the Quetta Shura and was the Taliban's chief of military operations in the provinces of Uruzgan, Nimroz, Kandahar, Farah, Herat, and Helmand, as well as a top aide to Mullah Omar. He also personally vouched for the safety of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. He was killed by Coalition forces while traveling near the Pakistani border in December 2006.
  • Mullah Obaidullah Akhund was the Taliban Defense Minister during the reign of the Taliban from 1996 until the US toppled the government in the fall of 2001. He was close to Mullah Omar. His status is uncertain; he has been reported to have been arrested and released several times by Pakistani security forces. He was last reported in Pakistani custody in February 2008.
  • Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Mansour - the former Minister of Civil Aviation and Transportation, and former shadow governor of Kandahar who was considered to be a possible successor to Baradar. He was killed in an airstrike in June 2009.
  • Mullah Mansur Dadullah Akhund, who is also known as Mullah Bakht Mohammed, replaced his brother Mullah Dadullah Akhund as the top commander in the South during the summer of 2007. His status is uncertain; he was last reported to have been arrested by Pakistani security forces in January 2008 but is thought to have been exchanged as part of a hostage deal.
  • Anwarul Haq Mujahid was a member of the Peshawar Regional Military Shura and the commander of the Tora Bora Military Front, which is based in Nangarhar province. He was detained in Peshawar in June 2009. Mujahid is the son of Maulvi Mohammed Yunis Khalis, a senior mujahedeen leader who was instrumental in welcoming Osama bin Laden into Afghanistan after he was ejected from the Sudan in 1996.
  • Mullah Ustad Mohammed Yasir was the chief of the Recruitment Committee and a Taliban spokesman before he was arrested in Peshawar in January 2009.
  • Mullah Younis, who is also known as Akhunzada Popalzai, was a former shadow governor of Zabul. He served as a police chief in Kabul during Taliban rule. He was captured in Karachi in February 2010.

 

 

The articles and letters are the opinion of the writers and are not representing the view of Sabawoon Online.
Copyright © 1996 - 2017 Sabawoon. All rights reserved.