The Taliban's surge in Afghanistan
The Taliban may be getting overconfident after a recent burst of strength, said The Denver Post. Maybe, said the San Francisco Chronicle, but they have riled up the Afghan government and added to an increasingly "combustible mix" . . .
Taliban fighters seized seven villages in an offensive near the city of Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second largest city. (The Washington Post) Fighting intensifed in recent weeks along the border with Pakistan ahead of a raid on a Kandahar prison last week in which some 400 Taliban fighters were freed. (Time.com)
What the commentators said
The Taliban may be “overconfident” after the prison raid, said The Denver Post in an editorial. Their “hit-and-run tactics” appear to be part of preparations for an all-out assault on Kandahar, but that will be where their luck runs out. NATO forces and “the beleaguered government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai” would surely prefer a “stand-up fight,” because that “would expose the guerrillas to allied firepower.”
No matter how things go in Kandahar, said the San Francisco Chronicle in an editorial, the Taliban’s “surge” is troubling. They were “nearly vanquished” years ago, yet last month more Americans died in Afghanistan than in Iraq, and “the American military is widening the fight into border regions in neighboring Pakistan.” Karzai has even threatened to send troops into Pakistan to attack the guerrillas, adding to an already “combustible mix.”
Doesn’t Karzai see “the harm he is causing to the war on terror by spewing venom against Pakistan?” said the Pakistan daily Dawn in an editorial. The threat to come crashing into Pakistan will “surely vitiate the geopolitical atmosphere in the region and play into the hands of those who stand to profit from such a scenario.” Karzai should know that “it is not Afghan blood alone that is being shed; Pakistan has suffered no less at the Taliban’s hands.”
The irony is that “the Democrats seem to favor the Afghan war,” said Marty Peretz in The New Republic’s The Spine blog, “not only over Iraq but as an essential component of our policies in West Asia.” It is, after all, a “model just war,” as it was in Taliban Afghanistan that the Sept. 11 attacks originated. But "the war in Iraq may actually have reached plateaus that one still has to fantasize will occur in Afghanistan.”
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