Monday, March 1, 2010

Marjah, Taliban and Pakistan

John R. Houk
© March 1, 2010

Ryan Mauro has another view of the Marjah campaign that is part of the Afghan troop surge. Operation Moshtarak is the work of the NATO troops with America in the lead to dislodge the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Marjah evidently is the hub for Taliban narcotics trade. Dislodging from there and the Helmand province could put a crimp in the Taliban’s monetary resources.

Mauro’s view of Marjah is a bit more negative than the AP story I posted on the February 28. The NATO forces have apparently received stiffer resistance than the AP story implied. As of the wee hours of Mauro’s posting Mauro reports Marjah had not been completely secured. The NATO troops have control of the major roads and by-ways it is a matter of time wading through mine fields of IEDs to further a stance of kicking the Taliban out of the area.

Mauro notes that many of the inhabitants are a bit distrusting of the Afghan government because of the shady way President Karzai sowed up his election victory.

Mauro believes Pakistan’s commitment to retake Taliban controlled land on their side of the AfPak border will be more relevant than a victory in Marjah. Mauro backs his thoughts with with the recent arrests of Taliban big dogs particularly Mullah Baradar the Taliban second in command.

Gary H. Johnson, Jr. suggested that Baradar’s capture was more of Taliban plan of sniffing out a negotiated peace or truce. Johnson suggests that the Taliban are currently divided between full scale resistance and autonomy. Johnson’s logic sounds good to me because it just seems so outlandish that a Taliban leader of Baradar’s stature would have been apprehended so easily.

Mauro implies Baradar’s capture was a lucky break that might embarrass Pakistan’s ISI. There are ISI elements that are supportive of the Taliban. Apparently the NATO intelligence is happy about the progress of interrogation which implies information is not coming forth easily.

Whether Baradar’s capture was the luck of Pakistani rival internal conflict or some kind of side ways Islamic path to talk American led NATO forces into a truce, there is one important thing: How useful will Baradar’s information be?

President BHO is actually politically stretching his neck out with the troop surge to Afghanistan. If he doesn’t support a surge with a goal of victory then BHO will actually create a situation similar to Vietnam. Maintaining a status quo with the indigenous population supporting the Afghan government’s enemies will result in either failure or a long stay which even Conservatives will weary of which will also result in failure. The neck being stretched is with BHO’s peace at any cost (i.e. losing) constituency.

The strategy of ‘clear, hold and build’ still must be accomplished with extreme prejudice. Any sign of weakness to Islamic Supremacists is a concession that the enemy has won.

JRH 3/1/10

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