Monday, July 17, 2006

Regaining control ?

'Talking to the Taliban'. I know this is in the New Statesman - subscribe now! get a free book! by John Pilger. But Kate Clark is always worth reading  [ Monday 17th July 2006 ]
The reasons they fought but are no longer fighting are complex, to do with economics as well as politics. Some desire a normal life after years of fighting; some still consider America and Karzai as enemies but do not want to be "tools of Pakistan and its intelligence service".
There is some hope that the new British command in Helmand and at Nato understands, as the US military never really has, that this complex insurgency requires political rather than military solutions.
Many in the south who, unlike northerners, never suffered Taliban abuse - the beheadings of teachers and Afghan aid workers, the burning of schools, extortion of money and suicide bombings - look back to the time of Taliban rule as a golden age. "There was no crime or killing, and security was good," an elder from Helmand told me. "Many people now support the Taliban, not because they're religious, but because of all the problems." Some elders in Helmand still try to steer a course between the Taliban and the government, but for other communities the old option has become the more attractive of the two.
As I mentioned in a previous post, there was a disturbing report from Afghanistan, late Friday. I will put it in the opposite sequence to the way the BBC presented it: British forces were almost overrun by Taliban fighters; they called in an American airstrike; estimates of civilian casualties vary between 25 and 200. Cue an Afghan saying, 'At least under the Taliban we had peace...' See another blogger's take on this.

By Saturday, the BBC was putting a different spin on the story: the British, supported by US, Canadian etc forces had established control of the town, which is at a key crossroads in the province.


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