I have a piece up at The Atlantic:
Unfortunately, in most places in the north where security has deteriorated, one finds the common theme of Western inattention. The ISAF has focused all of its attention on the south, and to a lesser extent the east, of the country. After all, the predominantly ethnic Pashtun Taliban, our stated target and the perceived leader of the insurgency, operates out of the Pashtun-dominated south and the eastern border region with Pakistan. It has been an article of faith for the U.S. and its partners for years that the insurgency in Afghanistan is a Pashtun phenomenon, driven by ethnic resentment and Islamist ideology. That assumption has led us to ignore the north and allowed Afghanistan’s insurgencies, which it turns out are not exclusively Pashtun at all, to move into the relative vacuum there. [As a result,] groups like the IMU and HiG have gained control of vast swaths of territory.
More there, obviously. I had written this before Governor Omar’s death in Takhar; there’s more happening in the area that deserves its own post. Maybe when I have a chance to sleep and let my brain recover some (it’s busybusybusy these days).
Anyway, comment away!