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The rise and fall/slowing/reversal/continuation (delete as applicable) of Taliban military progress

January 31, 2012

The progress, or otherwise, of peace talks between the various insurgent groups and whoever they end up talking with (see “US set to resume peace talks with Taliban” , but also “Afghan officials consider own talks with Taliban”) will be strongly influenced by the perceptions on both sides of the progress of the military campaign.  If you think you are winning, you are less inclined to compromise.  Whether Taliban military momentum has been slowed, halted or reversed is probably less relevant than whether progress against the Taliban can be sustained.  Often, “embedded” journalists tend to come back with an upbeat message that they seem (perhaps understandably) to “absorb” from the generally proactive ISAF forces around them.  Not so here; this interesting article from Time magazine looking at the nature of combat in eastern Afghanistan highlights the fierceness of Taliban engagements.   There also appears to be a significant difference of opinion between ISAF analysts and US strategic analysts as to how well the war is going.  And, for all the apparent progress being made in southern Afghanistan, the east of the country seems to be just as problematic as ever.

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