Despite efforts to keep it quiet, information about
NATO and American raids across the border into Pakistan are getting out. The
raids have captured some Taliban leaders, who were staying in Pakistani
villages close to the border. These actions are forcing the Taliban to move
their forward bases (for controlling the movement of gunmen across the border
into and out of Afghanistan) deeper into Pakistan, and that makes it more difficult
to move men and supplies into Afghanistan. Compared to last year, the Taliban
are having a harder time moving men and munitions across the border. The
Taliban are also bringing more cash with them, as villagers are less eager to
just give Taliban fighters food and hospitality (that is, not promptly calling
the cops). So "gifts" of cash are more frequently used to buy some
support in the villages. The Taliban are operating in smaller groups (under a
hundred men), to make them less likely to be spotted from the air.
March 12, 2007: The U.S. is sending another 3,500 troops to
Afghanistan, raising the total to 27,000. The U.S. believes that it can deal
the weakened Taliban a fatal blow this year, if there are enough American and
NATO troops there to do it.
March 11, 2007: The number of Taliban ambushes, and encounters with
security forces, is increasing. There are about twenty casualties a day, half
of them Taliban.
March 10, 2007: In the last few days, the Taliban have kidnapped three
foreigners (an Italian and two Germans) and demanded that NATO forces leave
within the week, or the hostages will be killed. The Taliban continue to attack
border posts, trying to intimidate the border guards into pulling back, and
making it easier for the Taliban to get through using the roads. One such clash
today left eight border guards and five Taliban dead.
March 9, 2007: The Taliban attempted to kill a pro-government tribal
chief, but only wounded him with a roadside bomb. The Taliban have been using
these bombs more frequently, but with much less success, than other Islamic
terrorists in Iraq. Bandits are also using roadside bombs, making it easier to
rob people (after the bomb goes off).
March 8, 2007: Taliban and drug gang forces in Helmand province have joined
forces to keep government police and troops out. Most of the heroin produced in
the country comes from Helmand.
Meanwhile, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar,
the most Islamic of the warlords that fought in the Afghan civil war of the
early 1990s, and later joined the Taliban after Iraq was invaded, has offered
to switch sides and ally himself with the government. Hekmatyar was never very
cozy with the Taliban, considering them puppets of the Pakistani military
intelligence. Hekmatyars forces mainly operate in eastern Afghanistan, from
Pakistan. Hekmatyar makes this peace offer periodically, but cannot be
trusted to follow through.
March 7, 2007: A senior Taliban leader was caught at a checkpoint near
Kandahar, trying to avoid detection by dressing as a woman. Elsewhere in the
area, NATO troops uncovered Taliban weapons caches, with the help of tips from
locals. In eastern Afghanistan, a Taliban bomb maker was arrested.