Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Forgotten Front

USA Today has a good overview of the forgotten front of the War on Radical Islamism: Afghanistan:

Four years after they ousted the radical Islamic regime, U.S. forces are still locked in a deadly contest with Taliban holdouts in the badlands of southern and eastern Afghanistan. The ongoing war here, overshadowed by the chaos in Iraq, defies easy analysis.

The Taliban fighters have suffered devastating defeats in battles with U.S. and Afghan government troops in Zabul province since May. And they have little chance of overthrowing the pro-U.S. government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai or reversing slow progress toward democracy here.

By Afghanistan's rock-bottom standards, this is a period of relative peace and prosperity. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are coming home, convinced that their country has a future after three decades of war.

In the rugged terrain along the Pakistan border, the Taliban can still play the spoiler — terrorizing the countryside with assassinations and bombings, attacking aid groups and making villagers like Mohammed think twice about openly supporting the Americans and Karzai's government.

The Taliban, fueled in part by increased assistance from al Qaeda, have launched a summer offensive designed to disrupt September's parliamentary elections. It is unlikely that they will succeed. Taliban violence will probably continue for some time, especially as long as the movement continues to enjoy relative safe haven in Pakistan. The Taliban are all but finished, however, as a serious threat to Afghanistan's nascent democracy.


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