Taliban assassinate key district governor in Kandahar
Haji Abdul Jabbar, the district governor of the Arghandab district, from a US military news report posted on DVIDS on May 25, 2010.
The Taliban assassinated an important ally in a district seen as vital to securing Kandahar province.
Haji Abdul Jabbar, his son, and driver were killed after the Taliban detonated a bomb near their vehicle inside Kandahar City earlier today. Jabbar was the district governor of the Arghandab district, which lies just north of the provincial capital of Kandahar City.
The US has placed great emphasis on turning Arghandab "into a working model of peace and stability," and Jabbar was the focus of a May 25 military news report on the district. The US has poured in aid money to help revitalize the farming community in Arghandab. The military has described the district as "the country's breadbasket."
The assassination of Jabbar is the second major Taliban blow against the district in the past week. On June 10, a young Taliban suicide bomber detonated at a wedding in a village in Arghandab. The attack killed 40 people. Some of the men at the wedding support the police or were members of a local anti-Taliban militia.
The Taliban have carried out a campaign of assassination and intimidation against tribal leaders and politicians who back the government and Coalition forces in Kandahar. Over the past several months, more than 20 senior officials, including the deputy mayor of Kandahar, have been killed by Taliban assassins.
The US has been targeting top Taliban leaders and facilitators in Kandahar in the run-up to the long awaited operation to dislodge the Taliban from the province, which is the birthplace of the Taliban and a major power center for the group. Over the past four months, more than 70 mid-level Taliban commanders have been killed during a series of special operations raids in and around Kandahar City, The National Post reported.
Two top Taliban leaders have been killed in Kandahar since late May. On May 30, Afghan and Coalition special operations forces killed Mullah Zergay, who led the Taliban in Kandahar City and in the vital districts of Zhari and Arghandab. On May 29, Afghan and Coalition forces killed Haji Amir, who was described as one of the top two Taliban leaders in all of Kandahar province.
The International Security Assistance Force has placed great emphasis on Kandahar and is deploying the bulk of its forces en route to Afghanistan to the province. President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have said that progress must be made by December in Kandahar, and in other key areas in the south, east, and north, in order for Western nations to continue their support for the war.
But a Department of Defense survey of the situation in key districts in Afghanistan paints a grim picture of Afghan public support for the government in the south. In Kandahar and Helmand, the two provinces considered to be the key to the Taliban's power in the south, the majority of the population is considered to be ambivalent toward the Afghan government and the Coalition, or sympathetic to or supportive of the Taliban.
Of the 11 of Kandahar's 13 districts assessed earlier this year, one district (Kandahar City) supported the government, three districts were considered neutral, six were sympathetic to the Taliban, and one supported the Taliban. Of the 11 of Helmand's 13 districts assessed, eight of the districts were considered neutral, one was sympathetic to the Taliban, and two supported the Taliban.
The situation appears equally grim in neighboring Helmand province. Of the 11 of Helmand's 13 districts assessed, eight of the districts were considered neutral, one was sympathetic to the Taliban, and two supported the Taliban.
The US has indicated that it will begin turning over security to the Afghan Army and police by July 2011 and that it will also start to withdraw its forces from the country at that time.