Google+ Badge

Saturday, August 8, 2009

War On Terror in Afghanistan

The United States is fighting a deadly war on terror. Many people have become more immune to the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as the American public seems to be lulled to sleep with less and less coverage by the media. The war in Afghanistan is escalating. Renewed public interest and reliable information are imperative to understanding the urgency of the operations in the country. The uptick in fighting across Afghanistan, where international forces and Afghan troops have been battling the Taliban, is partly due to a U.S.- led offensive in Afghanistan's Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold and poppy-growing region. The forces are trying to gain and hold ground in the perilous region ahead of national elections this August. The U.S. military bombed about 300 tons of poppy seeds in a dusty field in southern Afghanistan Tuesday in a dramatic show of force designed to break up the Taliban's connection to heroin.

According to CNN reports, over the years, opium and heroin -- both derivatives of the poppy -- have served as a major source of revenue for the insurgency, most notably the Taliban movement that once ruled Afghanistan. "If you can just help the people of Afghanistan in this way, the fighting will go away," said Abdul Qadir, a farmer in Lashkar Gah."The Taliban and other enemies of the country will also disappear."

This is a report from PBS analysis on July 31, 2009 titled "July Was the Deadliest Month for U.S. Forces in Afghanistan" by Talea Miller. "Two U.S. soldiers were killed in southern Afghanistan, the military said Friday, bringing to 41 the number of U.S. troops killed in July, making it the highest monthly toll in the eight-year-old war, news outlets reported. Casualties have increased since thousands of U.S. and British troops launched major operations in southern Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold and the heart of Afghanistan's opium production." Since 2001, al-Qaida largely has been driven out of its former base of operations in Afghanistan but not out of striking distance. A strong al-Qauida legacy remains in the country and continues to attack Afghan targets from outside the borders.

The relationship between the Taliban insurgents and al-Qaida is loosely affiliated, according to Greg Sullivan, a spokesperson for the State Department's Near East Asian Affairs bureau. Bin Laden plays a spiritual and philosophical leadership role to jihadists, but the operational logistics are being carried out by smaller groups in many cases.

Al-Qaida and the Taliban do have the shared goal in Afghanistan of driving out all foreign presence and reinstalling the Taliban as the government. "There was also a sense among some al-Qaida members that the Taliban was a true Islamic government, the only one," said Daniel Byman, director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University.

The two groups formed a symbiotic relationship. The Taliban providing a base of operations, while al-Qaida provided defense for the group. The al-Qaida network recruited foreign fighters and trained them into elite fighting forces that backed the Taliban.

"Before the war (United States involvement), the people of Afghanistan were the main victims of al-Qaida," said Ashraf Haidari, political counselor at the Afghanistan Embassy in Washington, D.C. "They supported the Taliban to victimize and oppress the people of Afghanistan."

As al-Qaida flourished in the country and expanded to train thousands of fighters, the network continued to organize terrorist strikes. In 1998, bin Laden and al-Zawahiri released a fatwa, a declaration of war, against America.

"The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it," the fatwa stated.

Afghanistan's democratically elected president, Hamid Karzai, who took power in 2002 with the endorsement of U.S. President Bush, took a strong stance against terrorism from the beginning of his presidency. He reacted with frustration to growing insurgent attacks in the country and called on the international community, especially Pakistan, to help root out terrorism at its source.

Pakistan is probably the most central location of al-Qaida now, according to Byman, though the organization does not have a strong base of operations and training like it once enjoyed in Afghanistan. The group's two leaders, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, have managed to evade U.S. intelligence and, as of September 2006, were believed to be living in Pakistan.

Victories for the U.S. war on terror were highly publicized in the United States and the smaller network itself has suffered, but the jihadist movement continues to grow and as of now the United States still has not captured bin Laden.

Late news (August 8, 2009)

Reportedly, Pakistan's Taliban chief, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in a U.S. drone missile strike on Friday, a Pakistani minister has confirmed. Mehsud was the nation’s most wanted terrorist, a fierce ally of al Qaeda, and thought to be responsible for a number of suicide bombings and killings, including the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.

The United States had a $5 million bounty on Mehsud's head, and a U.S. official said on Thursday that if the death was confirmed, it “would be a major victory” for U.S. efforts there. On Friday, Pakistan’s Foreign minister confirmed: “According to my sources, this news is correct, and he has been taken out.” However, Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas cautioned the reports of Mehsud's death were still unconfirmed. "We are receiving reports and probing," he said. DNA evidence may be required for confirmation.

Post a Comment