June 23rd, 2011
08:17 AM ET

Nic Robertson: 'Taliban playing a long game'

How will U.S. troop withdrawal affect places like Kabul and Kandahar and what is the Taliban's long-term strategy?

CNN senior international correspondent talked with CNN's Anderson Cooper after President Obama's Afghanistan address:

COOPER: [In his address, Obama] said it's time "to focus on nation building here at home." ... Nation building is not officially what the U.S. says they're doing in Afghanistan, but really as part of this counterinsurgency strategy, nation building is what the United States has been doing in Afghanistan for years.

ROBERTSON: It has. If you look at where surges had the best successes, towns in Kandahar and some of the towns in Helmand, it's because there's been security and that's allowed to provide facilities for the mayor's office and for the provincial governor.

Things that they can't afford to do by themselves and get markets back up and running and provide security for street vendors to be able to come out to those markets. It's all these sorts of things that surge has provided for.

When you take that away and when you take those successes and security away, you are left with an environment that the Afghans cannot in many cases sustain themselves.

Kabul has been mostly a relative safe haven, but last week you have a multiple suicide bombing attempt there. You see where Taliban is already trying to impinge into areas where already good security is provided.

COOPER: Nic, you spent a lot of time in Afghanistan. ... How much do you think the Taliban is just waiting out the U.S. like they did with the Soviets and how many people are still on the fence in Afghanistan about whether or not they should side with the Karzai government, with the U.S. or with the Taliban?

ROBERTSON: For sure the Taliban are playing a long game. They always said you've got watches, but we've got the time. It sounds kind of funny, but it's not.

They are prepared to wait out U.S. forces and other NATO forces leaving the country. What they'll be doing is looking at where the drawdown happens and where they can take advantage of that.

If you look at what the Taliban have done during the surge, the surge has really pushed a lot of troops and focused on key provinces and sort of important cities and important highways on the south of the country - Kandahar, Helmand, those places.

But where the surge hasn't been as strong in the east or at all in the north, that's where we have seen the Taliban been able to make their stronger gains.

So they'll look at the situation and where they can have an easier fight and manipulate the population, and the population does sit on the fence because they're not going to put their necks on the line.

If they think the Taliban will come along and cut them off for siding with either the Afghan government or all coalition forces and it's not just strains and differences with the Taliban.

Plenty of people in the country don't like the central government for a variety of reasons. The Taliban will play of against that as well.

Filed under: Taliban • Withdrawing troops
soundoff (99 Responses)
  1. Dindy

    what some people were doing secretly in caves ...have been exposed to the whole world and have no where to run anymore. women will be free from slavery. Children will learn and people will live decently without opium and abuse.Afghanistan is going to rise with rest of the world without Taliban and their supporters!!! they will know what is true freedom very soon.

    July 2, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Michele G

    The destruction of the education infrastructure went to an extreme level when the Taliban conquered and ruled most of Afghanistan.

    Except for some religious education, girls and women were forbidden to learn. Even for men, the curriculum was highly dominated by religious studies instead of science, technology, literature, etc.

    What the Taliban did in terms of education goes against Islam and what the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, preached. Muhammad told his followers in the early days of Islam to "seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave", and that "the ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr”. Islam requires education for all, both men and women.

    June 28, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      Michele G – Western science, technology and literature are useless for Afghan people. As I told they have other problems now. Afghanistan was always torn by wars and there is little place for " literature". Education for them is very different from what is under our perspective. Even Islamic and every other traditional concept of education is very different from your modern absurd concept.

      June 28, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michele G

      interesting. I quote islamic text and you still make a problem out of it.

      "seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave", and that "the ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr”. Islam requires education for all, both men and women.

      It is not MY "modern absurd concept."

      June 28, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Michele G – you quioted a bad translation as it is the ink of the scholar is more mighty than the sword, but unfortunately for you, you are not a scholar.

        June 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        And they gave the education they believe appropriate for their people. I consider their version of Sharya not orthodoxic like the other 4, but it is their problem.

        June 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
      • Michele G

        well in your truncated view of the world doesn't THAT just invalidate the islamic quote all to he ll......(yeah, riiiiiight.....)

        wonder what our anonymous audience thinks of your position. (Assuming and enlightened and intelligent readership of course.)

        June 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Problem is the interpretation of the Quran and it cannot be solved here as it should be read and understood in arabic.
        Anyway even if the Taliban are not rrappresentative of the Isla, it is not a good reason for trying to change their tradition using violence against all the people.

        June 28, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. /


    June 27, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • /

      Prior to the US invasion of Afghanistan, there were virtually no girls being educated. In 2010, there were 2.5 million girls in school. 5 million children attended no school. Most of those were girls. The percentage of girls in school dropped more than 50% between the sixth and seventh grades.

      Illiteracy among adults is 57% for men, 87% for women. Girls must be educated in schools in a separate building from boys, and, after 13, taught by women teachers, which are often lacking. 48% of Taliban school attacks are against girls schools; 28% against boys schools.[11]

      June 27, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      They are illiterate under western standard, but an illiterate can be a lot more intelligent than you. Mohammed was illiterate too. The Quran and Islamic tradition can be learnt orally.

      June 27, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • /

      well, God forbid, let's not teach them how to read or do arithmetic! Sacrilege!

      June 27, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        They have other things more usefull to learn, for istance how get food shelter and defence from foreign intruders who attacked Afghanistan since the last two centuries.

        June 28, 2011 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
      • Michele G

        you are a taliban supporter

        June 28, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
      • Michele G

        there is no justification for keeping people illiterate and uneducated. islam in its enlightened period educated its people but those days are long gone.

        June 28, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Islam is still a source of education for people, but as I said above those muslims are too busy to defend themselves from your aggression. They have other problem now.

        June 28, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
      • Michele G

        MY aggression? HERE is a classic example of how this dip stick twists and perverts honest communication.

        I am a staunch advocate of EDUCATION. He writes (poorly) but he does not want children in Afghanistan to learn to read and write. We all know why the taliban (and this fool) is against it. Power, control and turf. An 8 year old GIRL who can read might mess up their cruel agenda.

        June 28, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Michele G – They don't need your stupid education. They have other problems and even the women are fighting against the american aggression. The Revolutionary women of Afghanistan have a slogan bashing the US that says "peace with the criminal and war with the people."

        June 28, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
      • Michele G

        wow.....he actually called education "stupid" an epic oxymoron. What a failure he is as a human being.

        June 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Yes , modern western education is stupid, superficial and dangerous for the human mind.

        June 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
      • Michele G

        where do you think the design and infrastructure that you are using RIGHT NOW came form? From somebody parroting verses from the koran around a campfire? Or from people who know the calculus, formal logic, html, engineering, electronics and more math, science, and engineering than I can name?

        f you believe all that is wrong sign off the internet and unplug your electronic conveniences.


        June 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Technology is usefull, but it is a tool, not a goal or something we have to bow. Culture and tradition are something more important for the human being. Technology importance is overstated and creates non essential needs, excessive consumerism, and corruption. It is not evil per-se, but it can become evil if disconnected from the superior principles from wich everything was created.

        June 28, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. salerno

    Other 19 Nato soldiers killed last week and 2 americans killed today in Iraq, after 10 years Bush declared "victory" is quite a long game !!

    June 27, 2011 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
  5. pamiri

    stupid (salerno, Yaqobi ) do not post by the name of pamiri, and I declare to those who are familiar with my posting they know better that is not me and against i suggest from the responsible person of this site do not let others to use my screen name , and to use such bad words which you have to shame what posts ,

    pamiri from kabul

    June 26, 2011 at 6:06 am | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      Pamiri- I never posted using other people names. Sometimes somone abused my name too.

      June 26, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. /

    Stay in Alaska, (Alexander)

    June 24, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. /

    Note that our resident trolls never confront posters who claim to be soldiers who served in Afghanistan or Pakistan. The (trolls) throw filthy insults from afar but disappear when real soldiers post here.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • /

      "here" being anywhere on the Afghan blog threads.

      June 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • /

      They will insult and disparage THIS set of posts (probably) but hide in the shadows when a Soldier or Marine posts a comment.

      June 23, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      I confronted many times with soldiers or marines. No problem. I think they are cowards using high tech weapons to kill women and children.

      June 24, 2011 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
      • Dan from Chicago, IL

        Not only that /, he follows a liar and loves liars and hates to hear the TRUTH!

        June 24, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Dan – I follow the news as reported by the neutral organization like Rawa. Last wednsday 2 farmer were killed by US criminal military as they were irrigating their field. This is why I am gled when US soldiers die.

        June 25, 2011 at 3:34 am | Report abuse |
      • Journey

        I'll try to put this to good use imedimately.

        July 12, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • /

      You are a contemptible liar and craven to the core.

      I have perused the Afghan blog and where soldiers post you or the other (troll) are nowhere to be seen.

      June 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        / – May be our comments are deleted, but this is a CNN problem.

        June 25, 2011 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
      • /

        wrong. The Afghan blog is not moderated.

        June 25, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        I always reply, the soldiers are very easy for me..

        June 25, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • /

        total lies and bull crap

        June 25, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        I always reply. If soldiers are cowards and run away it is not my fault.

        June 25, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
      • /

        Then state the blog threads in which you have DIRECTLY called a US soldier a coward. NAME them. Liar.

        June 25, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        I am not going to tdo the job for you. If you have this curiosity you have to search in the past blogs.

        June 26, 2011 at 4:05 am | Report abuse |
      • /

        another expression of lies, deception and cowardice. You are filth.

        June 26, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        / – I have no time to fulfill your desire and something better to do.

        June 26, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
      • /

        a tiresome and oh so predictable dodge from a moral bankrupt.

        June 26, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Yawhn ! You are boring repeating always the same.

        June 27, 2011 at 5:10 am | Report abuse |
      • /

        and you are not?

        June 27, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        I reply to your stupid questions and false statements. Boring questions require boring answers.

        June 27, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
      • /

        wrong. My statements are niether wrong nor stupid/ it is you who are lacking in intelligence and integrity. my statements andd q

        June 27, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
      • /

        wrong. My statements are niether wrong nor stupid.

        it is you who are lacking in intelligence and integrity. my statements and questions are legitimate and intelligent and deserve answers with truth and integrity rather than your pretentious and affected poses and twaddle.

        June 27, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        You don't even know who are the Scolopi and I have no time to explain you everything.

        June 28, 2011 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  8. Andrew

    The entire war in Afghanistan exists because the large corpporations who control this country, and military companies can profit off the war.

    The argument they give, "fighting them over there will prevent attacks here in USA is bull.#hit."

    There is no organized military called Taliban. They are tribal peoples scadered all around the middleast.

    CNN keeps showing the vast taliban "military training as guys swinging on monkey bars or jumping over a wooden beams. The guys who do cal them selves Taliban today might call them selves something else tomorrow.

    Why doesn't CNN ever ask the question, "why don't Muslim terrorists attack 95% of other countries around the world?" WHY? Because USA has military bases in there country and supports Israel. That simple!

    What if Afghanistan had military bases here with troops running around New York of another American city with guns, what do you think American people would do? BE ANGRY that's what. Our country has bases in 136 other countries around the world. It is all made up people. By corporations who pay the politicians there campaigns to vote for war.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      Andrew – You are totally right in your analisys. Americams are suggestioned by propaganda and deception.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan from Detroit, MI

      Good grief Andrew, you said it all!!! Thank you very much!

      June 23, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. salerno

    I like the phrase "you got the watches, we got the time"

    June 23, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |