Winning: Afghan Taliban Seek Salvation

 

Taliban attacks in Afghanistan are down so far this year, with fewer roadside bombs, or gunmen engaging foreign and Afghan troops. But there are now more attacks on civilian targets, with over a hundred civilians being killed by these bombs in February alone. What this means is that the NATO campaign against drug gang and Taliban base areas last year has reduced the ability of the Taliban to manufacture and plant roadside bombs or organize ground or rocket attacks. So resources have been shifted to terrorizing the civilian population.

The Taliban have long had a serious image problem. It is getting worse. For example, although the Taliban claim to be the enemy of corruption and violence, they cannot exist without either. Most Afghans recognize this, which is why the Taliban are so unpopular, and really only a threat in one small part of the country (Kandahar and Helmand provinces, where most Taliban come from). The Taliban bribe who they can, and terrorize the rest. These are classic Afghan tactics, and everyone from warlords to bandits uses them. What makes the Taliban unique is the religious angle, and the use of a drug gang alliance to raise cash. The Taliban use religion as another form of terror. Threatening people for not being Islamic enough is easy to do in Afghanistan, where religion has always been worn lightly, but not ignored entirely. Yet the Taliban are generally perceived as thuggish hypocrites. They turn teenagers into suicide bombers and protect the drug trade that has turned millions of Afghans (and even more Pakistanis and Iranians) into opium or heroin addicts, yet demand that people stop watching movies or having dance music at weddings.

Winning: Afghan Taliban Seek Salvation

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