Taliban attacks in numbers amidst Afghani political stalemate

Friday, August 22, 2014

As a recount of the Afghan June run of presidential election continues, the Taliban have been launching attacks in greater numbers in an attempt to gain and hold territory.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Image: Staff Sgt Keith Thompson.

On Tuesday President Hamid Karzai called for an end of a two month election dispute that has seen the two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, both claim to have won the election. Inter Press Service reported the turn out of eight million was at odds with the widespread lack of activity reported in polling stations during the vote. Each of these votes is now being individually checked in a process involving international observers in a full audit of the ballot papers. This process started in mid-July, with a target late this month for completion, allowing time for the new president to attend security talks with NATO.

A spokesman for President Karzai indicated, according to Reuters, the political stalemate has had a detrimental effect on the security situation in the country, with a corresponding increase in Taliban activity. NATO forces are expected to leave the country, subject to the security talks, and outgoing President Karzai has declined to sign a security deal with the United States which would keep a small number of US troops in the country until 2016, leaving the Afghan forces without support in their struggle against the Taliban.

The spokesman said the Taliban were acting more as a battalion, citing foreign reinforcements as the source of their apparent new-found strength. The militants are reported to be attempting to take and hold ground, targeting key areas to secure opium export, the source of much of the insurgency's funding.

Recent examples of the Taliban's new tactics include an attack from a group of 700 Taliban, in Logar Province near the capital, Kabul, the governor of the province told Reuters. An Afghan general, quoted by Reuters, said, "Airpower by the foreign troops is the key component to this battle and we have lost many men simply because we couldn't ask our foreign partners for air strikes". In the past similar group attacks have been fended off with the support of air power provided by the International Security Assistance Force, with minimal casualties to Afghan security forces.