Thursday, June 21, 2007

A New Taliban?

"It would be a good idea to declare an amnesty for all the indigenous Taliban and bring them into the mainstream of politics. The foreign Taliban should be kept out." -Rahmat Gul, a teacher from Asad Khyl, Afghanistan, talking to the BBC.

How serendipitous to find a special week devoted to Afghanistan and a long line of articles streaming down the BBC news web page! Lately I've grown weary of NYT's tactical reports and have been wondering, "Who are these new Taliban, anyway?"

From the reports you'd find in the Times, at least, it appears that the new Taliban insurgents aren't nearly as skilled as the battle-hardened Taliban founder, Muhammad Omar. Check out the video by C.J. Chivers for the Times, depicting a Taliban ambush on Dutch troops last April. Running around the battlefield, facing a town in the middle of a lush Afghan valley, Chivers balked at how the Taliban kept "missing and missing." According to a BBC Q&A with some villagers in Asad Khyl,, however, the current Taliban forces still speak in the name of Islam as they desecrate its tenets. So far I haven't seen any indication as to who the current Taliban leadership is, or what their goals are.

But I see the bombings increase in what many new reports describe as an "Iraq-style" insurgency. The same goes for the insurgency in Somalia--it too is "Iraq-style," full of roadside bombings and suicide attacks. Perhaps the mujahideen from the Soviet invasion have faded off like old war heroes, and a new glut of holy warriors are finding their training and ideological backbone in Iraq. Perhaps Congress' "new direction" should take into account that Iraq will be a recruiting platform and training ground for years to come.

Nevertheless, I want to know: are the current Taliban local or foreign? Holy warriors intent on ridding the country of an American presence? Or Wahhab zealots, purer, presumably, than the civilians they profess to fight for, even as they blow them up in suicide bombings? I'll keep searching for dirt on the Taliban's leadership and get back to you on that.

No comments: