Thursday, March 1, 2007

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Why suicide terrorism is different in Afghanistan

Spencer Ackerman explains:

While Iraqi suicide bombers target civilians and soft targets in order to sow destabilization and provoke/respond to sectarian violence, nearly all Taliban suicide bombings -- and in Afghanistan, resistance to the presence of foreign forces and the Karzai government is overwhelmingly Taliban -- are focused on Afghan or U.S./NATO security forces. The two researchers assess that unlike the Iraqi insurgents, al-Qaeda or Shiite militias, the Taliban has to cleave the population away from the Karzai government, but in the process must "avoid losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the Afghan people by needlessly killing civilians."

The trouble is that it works. Members of the International Security Assistance Force have in some cases balked at taking up operations in suicide-bomb-heavy territory. Worse still, Williams and Young find that freaked-out ISAF forces have responded by upping their tolerance for collateral damage. Little is more provocative in Afghanistan than civilian deaths at foreign hands; in that sense, the Taliban gambit does show some success.

posted by Dan on 03.01.07 at 11:15 PM


Gee, it's almost as if someone *taught* them how to fight against a larger, better-equipped foreign invasion force.


posted by: C. Zorn on 03.01.07 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

The slow-motion resurgence of the Taliban is being totally lost in the shuffle over Iraq.

While the possibility of AQ bases in Iraq remains, we know how the Taliban feel about AQ.

We must do everything in our power to empower the Karzai government and send a message to the Afghan people that the U.S. and the world will spend much blood and treasure to make sure that the Taliban never come back. Our credibility in this part of the world is nil, and the people will voote with their feet if circumstances on the ground seem to indicate that the Taliban will be back in power in 5 years. If you were an Afghani, and you thought the Taliban were coming back in power, would you want to have been the first guy on your block to have stopped supporting the U.S. or the last?

posted by: adam l on 03.01.07 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Al Qaeda is not too disimilar to a modern day multi-national corporation [MNC], with fully or partially owned subsidiaries.
Subsidiaries like the Bathist/Sunni combine in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
And, like any other MNC., AQ has devised strategies, that will maximize their chances to dominate the two most important makets for them.
No surprises there.
Now, in order to defeat or compete against this MNC, we need to think like them. i.e, Lie, cheat and whatever needds to be done, however nefarious, ofcourse without getting caught, to win.
A good place to start would be attacking AQ supply line of employees/talent.

posted by: AT on 03.01.07 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Oh, one more thing, Mr.Drezner.
I read your [very impressive] Foreign Affairs piece on the emerging global order and while searching for your other opinion/s, stumbled upon this magnificent blog.
Many thanks for creating this site.

posted by: AT on 03.01.07 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Taliban = Pashtun, Sunni.

Kabul, seat of govt., Mostly Pashtun population.

If Kabul were in Hazara zone, and Hazara had substantial political power, we'd see plenty of suicide bombings targeting these Shiites.

posted by: Karl on 03.01.07 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Karl - The Hazaras, Tajiks etc are realtively [considering their population] powerful in Kabul.
If I am not mistaken, the Shias are more numerous in the Armed forces and hold several ministerial portfolios.

posted by: AT on 03.01.07 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

That redeployment in 2003 was a good idea.

Come stick you're head through this fence.

posted by: Babar on 03.01.07 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

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