May 05, 2009

Taliban - "a key hole view"

Londonstani's thinking that while Abu M is busy being important, now's a good time to check out a couple of interesting articles on the Pakistan-Afghanistan situation.

Want to know what the Taliban - on both sides of the border - is thinking? The NYT has been talking to a "logistics tactician" from the group who's happy to tell you.

On face value, the Talib's talking about a stragety that most people are by now quite well acquainted with (even if no one knows what to do about it):

"free movement over the border and in and around Pakistan, ready recruitment of Pakistani men and sustained cooperation of sympathetic Afghan villagers."

And as for the arming of local militias, the Talib reckons:

"we know our Afghans. They will take the money from Petraeus, but they will not be on his side."

He also has an answer for the coming "Afghan surge":

"The Americans cannot take control of the villages... In order to expel us they will have to resort to aerial bombing, and then they will have more civiliancasualties.”

This we pretty much know. But what Londonstani didn't know was that the Taliban plan to play up the propaganda value of their operations. The Iraqi insurgents made full use, to powerful effect, of the PR potential of their ambushes and bomb attacks. The Taliban have, so far, been slow to catch on.

Call him a suspicious hack, but Londonstani can't feeling the red light of caution is flashing in his brain.

The Talib is talking anonymously due to "fear of retribution by his fellow Taliban members". But with the picture and the description, he must be recognisable to his fellow fighters, and to the higher ups, who doubtlessly monitor the U.S. press. So, maybe some of this is disinformation or misdirection.

The reference to drone attacks being "very effective" could be traditional Pashtun appreciation for an enemy's prowess. Or, encouragement for a self-defeating course of action.

The main point of the article is to show how the Taliban are readying themselves for the coming troops and what the challenges are going to be. What it also shows is that even mid level Taliban operatives are psyched up for what's ahead. And they have a plan...

"We want to inflict maximum trouble, to lower their morale, to destabilize."