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Analysis: Taliban Plans Own 'Surge'

Council on Foreign Relations

Updated: February 28, 2007
Prepared by: Lionel Beehner

A suicide attack at the Bagram Air Base underscores the general lack of security (AP) in Afghanistan and the reconstitution of the Taliban. The attacker narrowly missed Vice President Dick Cheney, who was safely inside, but killed more than twenty Afghan workers and a handful of soldiers. Taliban-led forces have stepped up their efforts in recent weeks to undermine the Afghan government ahead of what they promise will be a “spring offensive.” They have launched a number of coordinated suicide attacks (RFE/RL), particularly in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar. And their leadership boasts a deep well of recruits, tapping popular antipathy toward the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.

The breakdown in Afghan security is attributable to a number of factors, as this Backgrounder explains. Afghan security forces, despite boosting their capacity, have proven ineffective at combating warlords and drug traffickers, according to a new report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The report finds that the police force in particular has had problems retaining officers, and also with corruption and oversight. Militias and local mafias have filled the security void. Conditions on the ground have deteriorated across the board, CSIS finds, with the exception of economic conditions and women’s rights. Unmet expectations have led to flagging public confidence in the Afghan government.

Taliban sympathizers are also increasing in number due to Afghanistan’s dismal economic prospects—it remains the world’s poorest country outside of sub-Saharan Africa. “High unemployment is fueling conflict,” writes Barnett R. Rubin of New York University in Foreign Affairs. “As a fruit trader in Kandahar put it to me, ‘Those Afghans who are fighting, it is all because of unemployment.’”

Read the rest of this article on the cfr.org website.

Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.

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