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Afghanistan: Taliban, Taliban Everywhere
NATO-led forces face tough battle as militants regroup
Bhuwan Thapaliya (Bhuwan)     Print Article 
Published 2006-08-02 07:09 (KST)   
Violence in Afghanistan, never far from the surface, has taken on a sinister new aspect: The number of casualties has risen, and the international forces in Afghanistan are facing mounting security problems.

In the latest casualties, three British soldiers have been killed after a vehicle patrol was ambushed by militants in southern Afghanistan, and a fourth soldier was seriously injured in the incident in the north of Helmand province, according to the British Ministry of Defense.

The attack took place in the Musaqala district of the province when insurgents opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades, according to NATO sources. With this latest casualty, the number of British troops who have been killed in Afghanistan this year has risen to nine.

Some 4,000 UK troops are deployed in Afghanistan. The majority of these troops are stationed in Helmand as part of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which operates under a U.N. mandate.

The NATO mission in Helmand aims to bring the remote and lawless parts of the country under total government control.

Analysts say the plan is to deal the Taliban a shattering military blow, ending its domination in some Afghan provinces, which would return under Kabul's control. But the NATO-led forces are struggling to adapt to fighting in the harsh Afghan environment.

Meanwhile, while much of the world's attention is now focused on Iran, Iraq and the latest Middle East crisis, analysts fear that the Taliban have regrouped over the last couple of years and are now a resurgent force in the south and east of Afghanistan.

Observers say, the crisis in Afghanistan is not just a struggle between the center and the provinces, but also a continuation of the fight between the U.S, who ousted them from Kabul in the 2001 US-led invasion, and the Taliban. And this makes the future of Afghanistan as uncertain as ever.

More troubling is the Taliban's threat. Once again, the fighters of Taliban are threatening Afghanistan. In May, al Qaida forces briefly took control of Musaqala before British troops pushed them away, but they are now believed to control some southern and eastern provinces of Afghanistan.

At present, however, the diplomats in Kabul play down the Taliban threat. The likeliest Taliban arithmetic is this: their fighters are threatening to attack Kabul. And analysts say if there is battle for Kabul, it will be fierce, adding to the rubble that remains of Afghanistan's once flourishing city.

How long will the nightmare last? From now on, the nature of the race changes, as it moves on from small-scale insurgency to a full-fledged guerrilla war because now Taliban forces are fighting NATO-led forces with Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and Stinger missiles. Moreover, they have an abundant supply of small arms, light weapons, ammunition, heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, according to media reports.

Such difficulties faced by the NATO-led forces in Afghanistan have prompted much speculation. Recently, Afghanistan analyst Ayesha Khan from the UK-based Chatham House organization was quoted as saying by the BBC: "In the past six months the Taliban have certainly grown in confidence and momentum. They're increasingly employing bolder, more violent tactics such as suicide bombing and roadside bombs which we've seen in Iraq, and they're operating in larger units."

Nonetheless, as a consequence, the foreign defenders are finding it difficult to oppose them.

Now, however, the grave question that has been rolling on and on all over the world is this. Are the NATO-led forces capable of tackling the Taliban's mimic of the mujahideen fighters, who inflicted heavy losses on the Soviet army which occupied Afghanistan from 1979-89?
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Bhuwan Thapaliya

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