Things might not be going so well in Kandahar, a strategically essential
city located in the province of the same name in the southeast of
Afghanistan. The Taliban first formed in Kandahar, expanding from there
in the early 1990s to eventually win the whole of Afghanistan. The city
has been racked with violence as U.S.-led international forces have
tried to force the Taliban out. Here's how it's going and
what it means.
- Taliban Still Strong, Local Afghans Skeptical
The A.P.'s Anne Gearan writes, "Afghans
have not yet rallied behind a U.S. military-led effort to push the
Taliban out of the city where the insurgency began, and the top
commander conceded Thursday that he needs more time to win them over.
... U.S.-led NATO forces can't defeat the Taliban while Kandahar remains
an insurgent bastion, and time is short. Obama plans to begin
withdrawing U.S. forces just over a year from now. The Kandahar
operation will unfold more slowly and last longer than the military had
planned, Gen. Stanley McChrystal told reporters at a NATO meeting here."
Erode Gov't, Sow Fear The New York Times' Rod Nordland writes, "The
Taliban have been stepping up a campaign of assassinations in recent
months against officials and anyone else associated with local
government in an attempt to undermine counterinsurgency operations in
the south. ... As the coalition concentrates on trying to build up the
Afghan government in the southern province of Kandahar, a big part of
that strategy depends on recruiting capable Afghan government officials
who can speed delivery of aid and services to undercut support for the
Taliban. The insurgents have just as busily been trying to undermine
that approach, by killing local officials and intimidating others into
leaving their posts."
- U.K. Holds Back Troops From Assault
The Guardian's Richard Norton-Taylor
reports that U.K. Defense Secretary Liam "Fox virtually ruled out
the prospect of UK forces moving out of the province and into
neighbouring Kandahar when Canada withdraws its troops from there next
year. The idea has been canvassed by some senior British, US and Nato
- Struggle in Marja Bodes Poorly for Kandahar
The Washington Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran
surveys the big military push in Marja that began in February. "The
insurgents have regained momentum in recent weeks, despite early claims
of success by U.S. Marines," and this could indicate trouble for the
similar mission in Kandahar. "The challenge of stabilizing Marja also
has prompted concern among commanders planning a large upcoming
operation to combat the Taliban in and around the city of Kandahar. They
are seeking to draw lessons from key problems encountered here and
develop new approaches, particularly in increasing the presence of
Afghan civil servants."
- Obama Will Face Difficult Decision
The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder explains, "Virtually every article I have
read about the war features quotations from squadron colonels who say
something to the effect of, well, we're making progress, but we need
more time and more resources. In December, Obama is expected to review
the Afghan surge, and it ought to surprise no one that most people in
the military and the Pentagon policy team, led by Undersecretary of
Defense Michelle Flournoy, are likely to urge him to stay at it -- to
slow down any draw down of U.S. troops (and maybe, maybe, even add some
troops) ... and certainly not to decide that rapidly withdrawing combat
brigades is the right course of action. President Obama will resist."
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