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Terrorism & Security

Afghanistan violence rises, weakening Karzai government

Taliban attacks are up, making this the worst season since the insurgency began and spurring greater Western troop deployments.

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Even before the recent settlements, The Christian Science Monitor reported in April that violence had spiked across the country, suggesting that additional factors are contributing to the increase.

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In some northern provinces, the Taliban issue "night letters," documents posted to villagers' doors at night threatening them if they support the government or Coalition forces, locals report. The tactic has been highly successful in intimidating residents in the south and quelling support for the international presence.
But analysts say the insurgency is spread not by fear alone: A weak central government and the country's declining socioeconomic situation also bolster militants' efforts. "The population of Afghanistan is becoming disillusioned with the government," Halim Kousary, an analyst with Center for Conflict and Peace Studies, a Kabul-based think tank. "People in the north believe there hasn't been enough reconstruction."

The Long War Journal, an Internet journal covering the "Global War on Terror," suggests:

[The] attacks by the Taliban and "Anti-Government Elements" ... have increased over the past several weeks as the poppy harvest season has ended. The Taliban now has a pool of unemployed harvesters to serve as recruits.

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, who echoed NATO's assessment of rising violence levels in a testimony to Congress on Tuesday, says that the US will respond by increasing troop strength, the Associated Press reported.

Mullen said the U.S. is deploying more troops to Afghanistan and encouraging local forces to do the same to contend with a growing insurgency, increased attacks and a burgeoning drug trade.
"In short, a stable Iraq and Afghanistan that are long-term partners and share our commitment to peace will be critical to achieving regional stability and security," he said.

The increased coalition presence might have to deal with an insurgency that is evolving tactically, writes The Daily Telegraph. The British paper reports that the Taliban is turning toward "Iraq-style tactics" – attacking soft targets and acting as a de facto authority in areas of weak central governance – to take the districts surrounding Kabul.

Taliban tactics have shifted sharply away from frontal attacks on Nato forces in the first four months of the year. However, the overall level of violence has risen and roadside bombings are up by 34 per cent overall. At the same time, there have been reports of Taliban fighters moving into several rural districts north and east of Kabul, the capital.
The strategy seeks to exploit local grievances and disillusionment with the Afghan government in rural areas.

The paper reports that the Taliban is seen by many in the districts surrounding the capital as a "credible alternative to the weak US-backed government."

...according to [a] local MP, who stays mostly in Kabul these days, the population has lost faith in the government.
"President [Hamid] Karzai got 40,000 votes from Kapisa Province, but now he wouldn't get five," said Abdul Hadi Safi.
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