February 26th, 2010
07:34 PM ET

Around the Web: The Taliban and the coalition strategy

A key part of the coalition effort in Afghanistan is to peel away militants from the Taliban and integrate them into society through jobs and opportunities. The Washington Post’s Joshua Partlow has a story on whether that strategy has a chance to work.

“Taliban leaders scoff at that notion, saying their loyalists are waging a determined holy war against the infidel armies of the West and can't be bought off,” Partlow writes.

“Interviews with [militants] who recently left the Taliban as part of an Afghan government effort to lure them from the battlefield suggest that in many cases, U.S. policymakers may be on to something.

“Several ex-fighters said they joined the Taliban not out of religious zealotry but for far more mundane reasons: anger at the government in Kabul, revenge for losing a government job, pressure from family or tribe members - or simply because they were broke.”

Meanwhile, after a spate of arrests of top Taliban leadership, Steve Coll of the New Yorker wonders whether Pakistan has “modified its strategy” toward the Taliban. Coll writes:

“In 2009, Islamist militants, mainly Taliban, carried out eighty-seven suicide attacks inside Pakistan, killing about thirteen hundred people, almost ninety per cent of them civilians, according to the Pak Institute for Peace Studies.

Last October, Taliban raiders staged an unprecedented assault on the Army’s General Headquarters, in Rawalpindi. Customarily, Pakistani officers have blamed ‘bad’ Taliban for such domestic raids, while absolving ‘good’ Taliban (who shoot only at infidels in Afghanistan).

As the violence on Pakistani soil intensifies, however, it would be natural for Pakistan’s generals to question whether their jihad-management strategy has become mired in false distinctions.”

 Some other news and perspectives:

- Anand Gopal (Christian Science Monitor): “Can Afghanistan Taliban absorb blow to Quetta Shura?"

- Saeed Shah (McClatchy): “At new Bagram prison in Afghanistan, some inmates buoyant

- Roger Cohen (New York Times): “An eye for an eye

- Michael Swaine (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace): “China and the ‘AfPak’ issue”

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