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THE AFGHAN FIGHTING SEASON

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The Taliban combat season began a month ago, and – a Western document analyzing the situation states - the number of attacks is growing, as is their destructive power, the precision with which they are executed and the increasingly high level of their targets. And we aren't talking only about the terrible attacks in Kabul, which nowadays occur even in the busiest neighborhoods in the center of town.

The document obtained by WikiLao shows a growth in the quantity and the quality of Taliban activities in areas distant from their traditional strongholds. In the north, for example, where repeated attacks in once quiet provinces such as Badakhshan, Takhar, Faryab, Jowzjan and Samangan, are cause for preoccupation. Balkh seems to be the only area in northern Afghanistan that remains relatively free of significant fighting; the area is controlled with an iron hand by Mohamed Atta Noor, who also has his own militia.

The analysis reveals that it is the members of the local forces who are being killed most during this fighting season. The Afghans are on the front line now but, according to many of Wikilao's sources, in reality “their level of preparation is inadequate” and  they don't have the right equipment.  There are reports of an increased number of desertions.

The significant deterioration of the situation on the ground had been widely predicted. According to the assessment by the military, analysts and diplomats, the Taliban want to take as much advantage as they can of the unique moment, in which a number of concurrent circumstances are in their favor: the shift of power into the hands of the inexperienced Afghan forces; ISAF preparing for post-2014; and political forces being involved in the electoral campaign and the obstacle-ridden road to national reconciliation that Hamid Karzai is proposing.

Much criticism is directed at President Karzai when the microphones are off.  His balancing acts and his irritated remarks about Westerners and Pakistanis have annoyed many. At the moment, however, nobody seems to want or be able to do without him. The replies, therefore, to certain (even public) statements have always been careful. And, to avoid any sort of exploitation or destabilizing effect, a health issue – a small heart attack – that Karzai suffered on March 18th was kept secret.

(Photo: REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail)

May 28, 2013