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The Real News Network: Kandahar Braces for Taliban Offensive

June 18, 2008
1:00 PM

CONTACT: The Real News Network
Kimberlee Nancekivell, 416-916-5202

Kandahar Braces for Taliban Offensive
Aijaz Ahmad: Does the Afghan war matter to the US?
June 18 - In anticipation of a Taliban offensive, the Afghan army flew four planeloads of soldiers to Kandahar from the capital Kabul.

The deployment comes a day after Taliban forces were seen mobilizing in the Arghandab district just north west of Kandahar, and 3 days after the Taliban freed 900 men from a Kandahar prison. Taliban forces destroyed bridges and planted landmines in preparation for battle.

The Taliban regime was ousted from power in a 2001 US-led invasion, but Anand Gopal of Inter Press Service says "there has been a general shift in the balance of power in the last few months." A Presidential spokesperson maintains that the Afghan National Army is "in charge of the situation" despite some "security incidents that have taken place," but an unidentified Taliban soldier disagrees. According to him, the Taliban "have 80 to 100 percent control" in Afghanistan. Though those are not the official numbers, the idea that the Taliban are gaining more power is present in the most recent US Intelligence estimate. The estimate states that "the Taliban controls about 10 percent of the country and the Karzai government controls about 30 percent of the country, and that number has changed significantly in the last few years."

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai threatened to send troops across Pakistan's border in "hot pursuit" on Sunday and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani retorted that Pakistan will defend itself at any cost.

In part one of a four part interview, The Real News Network's Senior editor Paul Jay discusses the geopolitics of the region with Senior News Analyst Aijaz Ahmad. Ahmad says he believes that the Afghan war does matter to the US despite important news, such as the creation of a 2005 agreement between the Karzai government and the US government granting the US the right to permanent bases, never making headlines in the US. He also says that he thinks "the time is gone for actual negotiations with the Taliban" but that "a massive assault on the Taliban in co-operation with the Pakistan army" is possible.

Kandahar braces for Taliban offensive

Taliban and NATO forces both assert that they are in control

Interview: Does the Afghan war matter to the US?

Ahmad: Permanent bases and strategy towards Ching long term US objectives in Afghanistan

Stay tuned for part two of the interview when Paul Jay and Aijaz Ahmad discuss the possibilities for increased military action on the Pakistan-Afghan border.


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