Musa Qala and the NATO offensive
The Brits concede Musa Qala is under Taliban control, the US said it will retake it, and NATO plans to prevent a Taliban offensive.
The BBC reports the Taliban have finally taken the town of Musa Qala in Helmand province. "Two residents of Musa Qala estimated that between 200 and 300 Taliban fighters had overtaken the town," reports the Associated Press. "They said the fighters took weapons from the police on Wednesday and destroyed the town's government center late Thursday." Just fall, the British military, without the approval of NATO command, negotiated a 'peace' with 'local elders,' much like the Waziristan Accord agreement between Pakistani government and the Taliban and al Qaeda. But the truth is the British signed a deal with the devil, and turned over Musa Qala to the Taliban.
We noted in November that this deal had ceded Musa Qala to the Taliban. Tim Lynch, a security contractor operating in Afghanistan, informed us that the al rayah, the black flag of al Qaeda, was flying outside the district center in Musa Qala. An American intelligence source confirmed this account.
The United States has indicated it is preparing forces to retake what the British handed over in Musa Qala.
NATO has also indicated it intends to preempt any potential Taliban spring offensive. Helmand an Kandahar provinces in southern Afghanistan are of particular concern, and NATO forces have been fighting a steady stream of small scale battles throughout the region over the winter. Pockets of Taliban fighters are killed at the rate of 10 to 50 per engagement, with few Coalition casualties.
This is exactly what NATO and U.S. forces did last year. Despite the media reports of the Taliban fighting an effective offensive throughout the spring summer and fall, the fact is the large majority of the combat operations were initiated by U.S. and NATO forces. Coalition forces launched major operations were launched in Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Kunar, Zabul, Ghazni, Khost, Paktia and Paktika provinces to root out Taliban formations and pockets. Over 3,500 of the 4,000 killed in Afghanistan last year were Taliban fighters. Each time the Taliban massed in force against the Coalition forces, they were decimated.
The Taliban and al Qaeda were effective in terror attacks, however. al Qaeda and the Taliban launched a string of suicide attacks in the south and east. The capital of Kabul fell victim to a rash of suicide strike in the late summer and early fall, until the suicide cell was rolled up by Afghan intelligence, and an Afghan general and Pakistani intelligence officer were detained for involvement in running the cell.
As long at the Taliban and al Qaeda maintain the sanctuaries in Quetta and the Northwest Frontier Province, the Afghan government and NATO forces will remain fighting a holding action. All of the offensive actions inside Afghanistan cannot destroy the massive Taliban infrastructure that has been built up over the past several years during the Pakistani government's neglect of this serious problem.