U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, says his next target is Kandahar.
He declined to comment specifically on when the Kandahar offensive will begin, but said "our forces will be significantly increased around there by early summer."
"There won't be a 'D-Day' that is climactic," McChrystal said. "It will be a rising tide of security as it comes."
Meanwhile, Sangar Rahimi and Richard A. Oppel Jr. of the New York Times report that Afghan President Hamid Karzai received a “mixed reception” during a visit to Marjah.
“Mr. Karzai tried his best to play to the crowd, and appeared to win it over on occasion with his crisp and simple language, spoken in the accent of his native Kandahar, the neighboring province.
But residents made it painfully clear that his government was despised here for the corrupt, violent officials who preyed on Marja for much of the past decade before the Taliban arrived.
In fact, residents say, the depredations of government officials here largely explain why the Taliban and their more effective administration of power and justice became so dominant in Marja in the first place.”
Yesterday, Keith Richburg of the Washington Post reported that clashes between Afghan militants left at least 50 dead.
“Local news reports quoted government and security officials from Baghlan province saying fighting erupted Saturday between the Taliban and fighters of the Hezb-e-Islami, a guerrilla faction under the command of longtime militia leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former Mujahideen leader in the battle against the Soviet Union,” Richburg writes.
Some other news reports and perspectives:
- Robert Kagan (Foreign Affairs): “Bipartisan Spring: The Washington consensus on foreign policy”
- Jasteena Dhillon (The Globe and Mail): “The West builds institutions. Afghans want informal justice”
- Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times): “Letting women reach women in Afghan war”