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Kabul Korrespondence

Fresh, factual, and funky view of Afghanistan and the surrounding Central Asian region

Taliban in control....?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

GRAEME SMITH
KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN-More districts of Kandahar are controlled by the Taliban than by the Afghan government, according to a U.S. assessment that casts doubt on Canada's upbeat view of the war.

The assessment divides Kandahar's districts into four categories: contested, Taliban controlled, locally controlled, and government controlled. Only four of 16 districts were classified as government controlled. The Taliban were described as controlling six districts.

The rest are held by local tribes or warlords, or they are battlefields with nobody clearly dominating.

The study was completed in January, but the findings were made available only recently to The Globe and Mail as the claims of progress by Canadian officials have increasingly contrasted with U.S. leaders' statements of concern about Afghanistan.

Other assessments of the province have been even more pessimistic: Over the past two years, the United Nations' periodically updated security maps have shown encroaching areas of ?extreme risk? filling large swaths of the countryside described as government controlled in the U.S. assessment.

Lieutenant-General Michel Gauthier said the military's count of significant acts, enemy-initiated direct attacks, IED attacks [bombings], and so on, all of those incidents combined, had increased only 3 or 4 per cent in June, 2008, as compared with June, 2007.

At the same time, Canada's regular troops have abandoned positions in the north of the province over the past two years, including Ghorak district centre, about 70 kilometres northwest of Kandahar city; Forward Operating Base Martello, about 100 kilometres north of Kandahar city; and Gumbad Platoon House, about 80 kilometres north of Kandahar city.

These outposts were located in districts now listed as Taliban-controlled in the U.S. assessment.

The idea that security has deteriorated in Afghanistan is not unique to U.S. analysts; it is now the mainstream view among most observers of the war. Equally mainstream is the belief that withdrawing foreign troops would cause a disaster on a vastly greater scale, and many experts are calling for more international forces.
posted by Travis, 9:44 am

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