Monday, April 17, 2006

The Afghanistan insurgency

Remember Afghanistan? If you don't, you may be reminded again soon.

...Afghanistan has its own violent insurgency-led by the Taliban and aided by dissident warlords-and it has lately intensified. As the country's harsh winter gives way to warmer weather, the Taliban is promising to make this spring and summer particularly bloody. ''We will intensify suicide attacks to the extent that we will make the land beneath their feet like a flaming oven," said Taliban leader Mullah Omar (the same Omar who led the Taliban regime destroyed by the US in October of 2001) in a recent statement.

Omar's may not be an empty boast. Suicide attacks have quadrupled in the past year, and attacks by improvised explosive devices have doubled. Steven Simon, a former counter-terrorism expert at the National Security Council and coauthor of ''The Age of Sacred Terror," recently returned from a visit to Afghanistan, and he thinks worse is to come. ''There will likely be a crescendo of violence, focused largely on Kabul, this summer," he says. And in the country's unruly south, it's widely suspected that insurgents will try to test the NATO forces that are moving in to take over from more seasoned US military troops.

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