Is the Taliban wearing out its welcome in Afghanistan?
Tuesday marked the most violent day in Afghanistan this year, while Afghans are starting to show that they're tired of violence and fed up with the Taliban.
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Unlike in Iraq, locals say the Taliban received the message after the uprising in Ghazni’s Andar district and backed off from some of its more aggressive behavior.Skip to next paragraph
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“The situation is becoming normal again after the uprising. There are no Taliban in the area where the uprising happened. In the other areas of Andar where there was no uprising, the Taliban’s behavior with the people has changed. They are a little softer,” says Shahbaz, a farmer in Andar district who, like many Afghans only has one name.
Additionally, throughout Afghanistan, as in Kandahar and especially Ghazni, the Taliban remain a considerable threat. Despite being an area of focus for the US military this past year, with NATO forces tripling there, many areas of the province remain restive and dangerous.
Within the Afghan government, the Parliament has been so frustrated with its military’s inability to reign in violence and stop assassinations that it forced the resignation of the country’s minister of defense and interior.
Afghans more pro government?
Even if the Taliban continues to lose the support of the population, it does not necessarily mean the local population is now siding with the Afghan government and international forces.
With the security situation and political future of Afghanistan still far from stable or certain – yesterday marked the deadliest day of 2012 for Afghan civilians – many analysts say that Afghans, especially those in rural areas appear to be hedging their bets.
That the US military and NATO will end their combat mission here in 2014 is no secret, making many Afghans weary of looking to international troops for enduring support. The Afghan government’s reputation for pervasive corruption has also made a number of locals hesitant to place their allegiances there.
“There are lots of people here in Kabul who want to brand it as a kind of uprising that has ceased the nation, but I think that’s too simplistic,” says Alex Strick van Linschoten, an independent researcher and author of “An Enemy We Created: The Myth of the Taliban/Al-Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan.”
Speaking about recent security improvements in Kandahar, he adds, “It seems that people are happy with the situation and they don’t want it to go back how it was before, yet at the same time that doesn’t mean they think the government is the greatest thing ever.”
Amid this climate, many Afghan observers say that its unlikely widespread frustration will translate into a nationwide uprising, or even sweep through the rest of Ghazni Province.
Few Afghans possess the means to revolt. It is among the 10 poorest countries in the world and has a per capita GDP of $528. Facing this level of destitution, for Afghans living hand-to-mouth, abandoning their fields or jobs to fend off the Taliban is simply not an option.
“Our people are very poor. They are always worried about covering their daily expenses and surviving. As long as they are uncertain about whether their children can survive, how can they be ready for an uprising? Economically, if they are supported and they are more secure financially then I think in that case they will start to rise up against the Taliban,” says Mohammad Isa Khan, a former attorney general and independent analyst in Kandahar.