Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mission accomplished?

Not in Iraq, and, apparently, not in Afghanistan, either. As American troops begin pulling out, the Taliban is taking steps to reclaim power.

"The Taliban and Al Qaeda are everywhere," a shopkeeper, Haji Saifullah, told the commander of American forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, as the general strolled through the bazaar of this town to talk to people. "It is all right in the city, but if you go outside the city, they are everywhere, and the people have to support them. They have no choice."

The fact that American troops are pulling out of southern Afghanistan in the coming months, and handing matters over to NATO peacekeepers, who have repeatedly stated that they are not going to fight terrorists, has given a lift to the insurgents, and increased the fears of Afghans.

The administration, of course, never fails to see the sunny side.

Asked about the surge in Taliban activity in southern Afghanistan, a Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, said: "We have seen Taliban activity fluctuate from time to time." The British-led NATO force taking over from the American troops in the south "has well-equipped, well-led and fully prepared forces to operate in this challenging environment and deal with any threats," he added.

But the NATO forces have repeatedly stated they aren't going to fight terrorists. Sounds like unfinished business to me, with an outcome that could once again plunge Afghanistan into chaos.

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