The New York Times has produced a map that highlights the Taliban’s reach in Afghanistan. The data for the map was provided by The Long War Journal. The Taliban have a pervasive influence in large swaths of the country; half of Afghanistan is either contested by the Taliban or under Taliban control. The map highlights the challenges the US and NATO face as they prepare to ‘surge’ more forces into the country to wrest control from the Taliban, reestablish security and governance, and transition security to the beleaguered Afghan government.
The criteria for determining Taliban control, contested, or influenced areas:
Taliban control: Districts/agencies where the Taliban operate a parallel political administration and effectively control the bulk of the regions. In these areas, the Taliban will often declare sharia law; run courts, recruiting centers, and tax offices; and maintain security forces. The police and military are nonexistent or are confined to barracks. The Taliban also host camps for al Qaeda and other jihadi groups in the region.
Contested control: Districts/agencies where the Taliban may still control regions but are actively being opposed by the civil administrations. The Taliban attacks and assassinations of religious, political, and tribal leaders are often the worst in these areas, as the terrorists seek to destroy the will of the people to resist.
Taliban influence: Districts/agencies where the Taliban are present but their activities are more subtle. The Taliban may run madrassas, or religious schools; conduct recruiting and fundraising; and host camps or Taliban units. Attacks are not as prevalent in these regions as they are in Taliban control or Contested control areas.