Afghanistan: Taliban Trapped By Their Own Plans


July 30, 2007: The Taliban have admitted that they are carrying out a new strategy of kidnapping foreigners, in order to trade them for imprisoned terrorists. This worked last March, when the Italian government persuaded the government to free several senior Taliban in return for a kidnapped Italian journalist. This was widely denounced in Afghanistan, and by nations with aid workers and troops in Afghanistan. It was believed this trade would just encourage the Taliban to kidnap more foreigners, and this is exactly what happened. Now the government has to risk seeing far more foreign hostages killed, all because they would not stand up to the Italian government demands for a trade.

Kidnapping the 23 South Koreans eleven days ago is turning out to be a public relations disaster for the Taliban. First, the Koreans were there to help with reconstruction, to do good works. In that role, they are supposed to be treated as guests, and guarding the safety of guests is a big deal in Afghan culture. But worst of all, 18 of the 23 are women, and most Afghans see it as shameful to threaten women in this fashion. The Taliban have kept moving their deadline, and there is another "release our men or the hostages die" one today. The government believes they know where the Koreans are being held, and have surrounded the area with troops. But using force to free the hostages would probably result in some, or all, of the Koreans getting killed. One Korean, who was apparently ill, has already been killed by the Taliban. Two Germans were also kidnapped by the Taliban, and one killed, as the Taliban demanded the release of some Taliban from jail.

If the government does not give in, which is apparently the strategy, the Taliban will have suffered yet another defeat. This, coupled with the war going on back in their Pakistani base areas, the continued NATO military pressure on strongholds in Afghanistan, leaves the Taliban looking like losers. This is not a good image to have in this part of the world.

In yet another catastrophe for the Taliban, Pakistan announced that it would close all Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan by 2009, sending some two million Afghans back to Afghanistan. Most of the camps are in the tribal areas along the Afghan border, and have long been used as Taliban bases, and centers of Islamic radical activity.

July 26, 2007: In Helmand province, the center of heroin production in the country, Taliban have been standing and fighting, rather than fleeing. That's because Helmand is the base of operations for so many Taliban units, as well as the source of much income from drug operations. Nearly 200 Taliban have been killed in the last week, as determined Taliban gunmen barricade themselves in fortified compounds, which are destroyed by smart bombs. Few, if any, civilians appear to have died in these operations. Civilians know that to be around Taliban when the police or troops show up is courting death. Apparently the Taliban are not trying to hold the civilians by force, realizing that the human shield routine doesn't work, and killing more Afghans makes them look bad.


Article Archive

Afghanistan: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close