Sunday, April 9, 2006

time will tell ...

Taliban convinced Canadians will tire of war, as MPs debate army's combat role
April 9, 2006

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CP) -
As MPs gather in Ottawa to discuss Canada's more combative role in southern Afghanistan, a senior Taliban official and coalition commanders painted two disparate images Sunday of where the war is headed.

In a weekend interview with The Canadian Press, insurgent spokesman Qari Yuosaf Ahmedi said the Taliban are convinced the resolve of the Canadian people is weak.

As suicide attacks and roadside blasts increase, the public will quickly grow weary, he said.

"We think that when we kill enough Canadians they will quit war and return home," Ahmedi said in an interview, conducted through a translator, over a satellite telephone.

Given the fact troops are already deployed, Ahmedi suggested Monday's House of Commons debate as a sign of indecision among Canadians.

In addition to his fire-breathing rhetoric, the Taliban's public relations spokesman claimed that the insurgency had recruited 180 suicide bombers for operations in and around Kandahar over the next few weeks.

He said they are prepared to attack Canadians "any one else, at any place and at any time."

But coalition commanders had a vastly different assessment, painting the Taliban as cornered, marginalized into rural pockets, struggling to raise money and find recruits.

"The reason we think the Taliban are falling apart is because the pattern of attacks we're seeing is not co-ordinated," said Maj. Quentin Innis, a Canadian liaison officer with the local community.

"It may appear there are a lot of attacks going on and those are regretable."

On Sunday, Kandahar city was rocked by two separate remote-control improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, which injured 11 Afghans, including two children.

Senior Taliban commanders reside on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border and where many suiciders - as they known by local Afghans-are recruited, said the chief of staff to multi-national brigade commander.

British Col. Chris Vernon said, while the coalition has faced increased attacks, it has been successful is eliminating junior insurgent commanders.

"Various middle level leaders in Afghanistan have been removed from the circuit over the last month," he told reporters on Sunday.

"When they're asking for volunteers to come in and take those mid-level positions, there is a distinct lack of volunteers coming forward, particularly out of Pakistan."

He also said requests by front-line Taliban for more funds and equipment have not been answered.

Canada's more front-line involvement in this dirt poor, war-ravaged country will be the subject of a "note-taking" debate in the House of Commons on Monday. It will be largely a symbolic exercise as the matter will not be the subject of a vote.

The new Conservative government has been reluctant to hold the debate because of its potential impact on the morale of the country's 2,200 troops deployed in southern Afghanistan. A few weeks ago, a public opinion survey found that a majority of respondants were opposed to Canada's more aggressive posture and wanted the country to return to its more traditional role of peacekeeping.

Since 2002, the conflict has cost the lives of 11 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat.

A senior Afghan army officer said Sunday that Canadian politicians need to understand the positive contribution the army has made to the region, beyond military assistance.

"The Canadians did a lot of things, especially for Kandahar," Maj. Rahmatullah Sha, the deputy garrison commander of the city, said through a translator.

"They've done a lot of reconstruction and security help. The security of Kandahar is normal. It's not that bad."

His account was somewhat contradicted by Innis, who laid out statistics from the local media that show there have been 24 roadside explosions or suicide car attacks between June 2005 and March 2006. Those assaults have killed 32 civilians.

"We understand the citizens of Kandahar don't feel secure, but there are two things you have to realize," said Innis. "The first thing is that there are more unsuccessful Taliban attacks than successful. I can't go into the details but we've prevented more attacks than those that have occurred."

The carnage can be blamed on foreign fighters, including jihadists from Pakistan, Chechnya and some Arab countries, said Sha.

Coalition forces claimed to have killed a senior Taliban commander during an offensive in southern Helmand province Friday, said a statement by the U.S. military. Although the man was not identified, authorities claimed the commander "was directly tied to dozens of improvised explosive device attacks."


Revolutionary Blogger said...

do you think its true?

audacious said...

that is a loaded question. i personally don't think many of us were as in tune as we should have been in the very beginning, and should have been more vocal. i don't think we should be there. i get a bad sense of where harper will /could guide our military stand now and in the future ... ; our realm has and is changing; and sadly i don't think enough will take an active stand and do anything about it. i understand the risk of peacekeeping duties, however, this isn't peacekeeping; this isn't our war. and with all hopes that we aren't in a situation of one too many body bags before people open up their eyes and take a stand.