Nato has struck a blow, but the war isn't yet won
Wednesday 17 February 2010
The capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's top strategist, deals a psychological blow to the insurgents currently fighting British troops in southern Afghanistan.
As the right-hand man of the reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, Mr Baradar takes responsibility for day-to-day campaigning and is the most senior Taliban member to travel inside Afghanistan regularly.
Yet, unprecedented as the incident is, observers are cautious about extrapolating too much from the reports of his arrest. "It's impossible to be specific about the way this will develop," said a security analyst in Kabul. "It's wait-and-see time."
Hurting the leadership is just one component of the West's strategy to defeat the militants and "for the most part, catching one individual is going to have no effect on a network," the security analyst said.
Mr Baradar may be an exception, as the Taliban's immediate denial of his arrest would suggest. "He has not been captured," their spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters. "They want to spread this rumour just to divert the attention of people from their defeats in Marjah."
But the critical part of the West's counter-insurgency campaign remains driving a wedge between the Taliban and the civilian population they hide among. Smashing their finances is another priority.
Nato's best hope is that Mr Baradar's capture demoralises other Taliban leaders and temporarily disrupts their ability to plan. This would come as a relief to US Marines and their allies who are slowly taking ground from tenacious guerrilla fighters in Helmand province.
Reports from the front continue to tell of painstaking progress through heavily mined fields and hamlets, and dogged defence by Taliban snipers.
Some allied soldiers said the insurgents were becoming disorganised after a fourth consecutive day of fighting. Helmand's governor said a Nato airstrike had killed a Taliban commander responsible for marshalling foreign militants in the province.
Meanwhile, the coalition admitted responsibility for the deaths of several more civilians. One man was caught in crossfire, and two others shot when they ignored warnings to stop.
Confusion is emerging over the sequence of events that led to the deaths of a dozen civilians on Sunday, with some blaming an errant rocket and other reports suggesting Nato fired on insurgents with out realising a family was in the same building.
Several thousand civilians have successfully made the treacherous journey to the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah where aid agencies are providing food and shelter.
In an astonishing display of courage, several local taxi drivers organised an informal ambulance service, driving casualties to treatment along 20 miles of roads sown with homemade bombs.
* In an incident unconnected with Operation Moshtarak, a British soldier was reported killed by an explosion near patrol base Ezaray in Sangin district in northeast Helmand.
Dennis Rodman will coach the North Korea basketball team
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
Jennifer Lawrence: 'It should be illegal to call someone fat on TV'
Ian Watkins: Police probed over earlier allegations as paedophile Lostprophets singer sentenced to 35 years for child sex offences
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
DNA from a 50,000 year old toe shows Neanderthals were highly inbred
Devyani Khobragade: India-US row escalates over arrest of diplomat in New York
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 4 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >
£500 - £550 per day: Cornwallis Elt : Business Analyst Target Operating Mod...
£10 - £12 per hour: Pro-Recruitment Group: An opportunity has arisen within th...
Flexible, Competitive, Weekly.: Randstad Education Cambridge: The JobRandstad ...
£9600 - £14400 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education are...