Sunday, February 03, 2008

Insurgencies spread in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers

last updated: February 03, 2008 06:25:16 AM

WASHINGTON — Islamic insurgents are expanding their numbers and reach in Afghanistan and Pakistan, spreading violence and disarray over a vast cross-border zone where al Qaida has rebuilt the sanctuary it lost when the United States invaded Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks.

There is little in the short term that the Bush administration or its allies can do to halt the bloodshed, which is spreading toward Pakistan's heartland and threatening to destabilize the U.S.-backed governments in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In Afghanistan, U.S. and NATO forces are facing "a classic growing insurgency," Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday...

..."The Taliban in Afghanistan now control more of the country than at any time since 2001, and their confederates in the tribal areas of Pakistan are expanding their operations almost day by day. While our attention has been diverted by Iraq, we've overlooked a potentially far more serious threat to the security of all Americans," Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden, D-Del., told McClatchy...

...There's widespread agreement, though, that the Bush administration bears much of the blame for the worsening crisis.

The administration diverted U.S. troops and resources to the 2003 invasion of Iraq without first securing Afghanistan after the 2001 U.S. intervention there...

...In Afghanistan, the Taliban have expanded the territory they control and where they can move freely despite suffering huge losses last year in battles with U.S. and NATO troops.

"The number of districts in which the Taliban operate exploded last year," said John McCreary, a former senior intelligence analyst with the Joint Chiefs of Staff who's now with the private contractor dNovus RDI. "This is the first year they have managed to sustain over 100 attacks per month for the whole year since they started to climb back. One hundred attacks per month used to be surge figure. Now it's the new norm."...[Open in new window]


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