Afghanistan: Taliban Leaders Outline Tactics

by Nathan Hamm on 9/12/2003

Afghanistan: Taliban Leaders Outline Tactics
The Taliban plans guerilla tactics to tie down the US. Here’s the gist of their plan:

Hajji Ibrahim, who says he is a Taliban commander, said the
group’s goal was to tie down the US and force it to spend huge sums
responding to limited attacks that draw US forces “here to there, here
to there”.
He predicted that the US, sapped by a slow, costly and grinding
conflict, would abandon Afghanistan after two to three years, and
compared the current situation with the defeat of Soviet forces in
Afghanistan in the 1980s.

This kind of thinking shows just how little these Talibanlar learned
from the 1980s and how poorly they understand their enemy. The United
States is not the Soviet Union. I will say that again because some
native speakers of English fall into this fallacy of comparison in
Afghanistan. The United States in not the Soviet Union. I have noticed
that it is extremely common in the mythologies of Islamist political
movements to believe that they caused the collapse of the Soviet Union.
They have subsequently overestimated their abilities and suffered
greatly for their few, horrifying successes (see Dan Darling’s “Where Are They Now”
for Al Qaeda). The mujahideen of the 80s had the broad support of an
entire nation against an army of conscripts with low morale and poor
training. The Taliban should not discount the impact that CIA advisors
and US military assistance had in their victory. I’m no expert on the
Soviet war in Afghanistan, but I am certain that without the
significant aid that the US gave in money, supplies, and keeping access
to the country open to Arab volunteers, the Soviets would have rolled
over them like the Russians have over the Chechens. It would have been
slow and brutal, but Afghanistan would have ended up the 16th SSR. That
being said, I don’t see much room for success in the Taliban’s future.
It won’t be easy for us, but we do have a lot more going for us than
the Soviets did during the 80s. Large segments of the population
support us, and so long as we maintain a presence, the Taliban can do
more than launch terror attacks and assaults against those who
cooperate with the US. That’s not to say that it will be easy with foes
like this,

The two men vowed that the Taliban would kill Afghan
President Hamid Karzai and said the group carried out the assassination
attempt in Kandahar a year ago that nearly succeeded.
One of them said the Taliban reserved the right to kill foreign and
Afghan aid workers whom they deemed spies.


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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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