Afghan Army Battles Taliban at Border Crossing?

Fifteen Taliban may have been killed outside Spin Boldak; Further news on North & South Talibanistan

Map of Spin Boldak and the border regions on the Afghan/Pakistani border

The influx of Taliban fighters from the Pakistani side of the border has long been a source of concern for the Afghan Government and Coalition forces. Today, the Afghan National Army reported it intercepted a Taliban raiding party crossing the border at Spin Boldak in Kandahar province, and killed fifteen Taliban during the fighting. An Afghan Army officer claims Mullah Shien, a mid-level Taliban commander, was killed during the engagement, and observed four Taliban were observed crossing back into Pakistan. Naimat Khan Noorzai, the deputy governor of Kandahar and a member of the Noorzai tribe, states those killed were not Taliban, but members of a local tribe who “were killed in cold blood because of a tribal conflict.” The Afghan government has opened an investigation. There is also the possibility this is related to Afghanistan’s drug trade.

The border crossing at Spin Boldak sits astride a main roed between Kandahar city and Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan. al Qaeda and the Taliban are believed to be operating from Balochistan, and the province is mired in a renewed insurgency. Balochi tribal chief Nawab Akbar Bugti is believed to be directing the insurgency from “a series of large caves in the mountains of Dera Bugti with several thousand armed tribesmen.” Yet another gas pipeline was attacked by the Balochi insurgency.

The Guardian reports the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of North & South Waziristan are now essentially under Taliban control. The report essentially matches our analysis of the situation in Waziristan which started in January and continued throughout the month of March. Adding insult to injury, the Taliban destroyed a government sponsored radio tower in the garrison city of Wana, South Waziristan. Meanwhile, the Pakistani government claims “foreign terrorists not to be given amnesty again” (note the again), it is prepared to “set up peace committees in Waziristan” and that the “Al-Qaeda network has been dismantled and the current anti-state activities are sporadic and of separate nature.”

Pakistan has essentially lost control of its border provinces in the tribal regions, and the renewed insurgency in Balochistan will only bleed off more forces needed to reestablish control in Waziristan – assuming the government has the will to do so. In the mean time, al Qaeda and the Taliban are arming, training and pouring forces into Afghanistan in an attempt to derail the political progress and fragile security situation in the nascent democracy.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.

33 Comments

  • Marlin says:

    Hamidreza has properly pointed out in this comment to a prior post that the Asia Times is no lover of America. However, like Bill, I believe that Syed Saleem Shahzad from time to time has articles that present some interesting facts.
    Shahzad has an article today that attempts to explain the revolution that is now occurring in the Pakistani tribal areas of North and South Waziristan. I believe it is somewhat hyperbolic, but probably contains a fair amount of truth.
    Asia Times: Revolution in the Pakistani mountains
    Coincidentally Wretchard has an interesting post up today about how September 11 wasn’t simply a gigantic crime — an Oklahoma City bombing writ large. It was the end of an era and beginning of a new one. If what Shahzad writes is true, somehow I feel what’s happening up in Pakistani tribal areas is probably part of this new era.
    The Belmont Club: Before the dawn

  • Lisa says:

    Bill,
    What drives these people-al-Qaeda & Taliban? Is it deep-rooted religious beliefs and the fact they are centuries behind the rest of us? It’s like they are still living in biblical times.
    Lisa~:>)

  • blert says:

    This surge in Talban strength is setting the stage for civil war in Pakistan, not Afghanistan.
    Recruiting unlawful combatants is easy with infidels near to hand.
    Once formed up and blooded: the perfect force to topple Pakistan.
    This bell tolls for Pakistan.

  • Lisa says:

    blert-
    Do we go there next?
    It seems like they are everywhere!
    Saw the Pres. today but I am not sure that his speeches are going to help the public believe again. Not in the military so much as in him. They feel they can’t trust him. And you know we Americans like honesty along with instant gratification but hey, who doesn’t? I began hearing desent about the war from other people last year…
    We are a people who like the fastfood, fast computers, fast cars and we get mad if we have to wait beyond five minutes:) Then if you make a mistake, well Lord help you! Now with all this other stuff stirring up, people having a hard time believing in Bush and if we need to do something, well…I just don’t think they will let it happen.
    I feel there will be more and more pressure for an early pull out from the public.
    And NO I am not a Leftest or a Liberal.
    Lisa~:>)

  • Tom says:

    Lisa,
    I trust him. Most of my friends trust him. (and I live in California) You speak in sweeping generalities of Americans not trusting The President. I’m sorry, I don’t buy that.
    I don’t trust the MSM, and I get most of my news from wonderful sites like this one. So do most of my friends and family. What’s your point?
    Tom

  • GK says:

    I have an article on the future of warfare in general and Pakistan in particular on my blog :
    //futurist.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/03/the_winds_of_wa.html
    Forgive me for posting here, but it may be of interest.

  • JAF says:

    I think what Lisa is saying that there are many of us who are nervous with all the conflicts and the islamist threats in many different places. Pakistan is in a very difficult position with a radicalized population and Al Queda sympathizers, and they have the bomb. The Prez I think should be commended for bring the Pakistanis on board in the terror fight shortly after 9-11 and also should be commended for getting closer ties with India as well.
    Many people have lost faith in Bush, some days I’m one of those because I want things to go faster, victory now, parades tommorow. Some days I feel that Bush is moving too slow, but could that be because he has to work with Euro-weenies or hear the howls of MSM for being a cowboy? or from the democrats for being a unilateralist? I personally think Bush wants to move faster on things, but has to involve democrats, Euroweenies, UN, China, Russia, Britain, Poland, Australia, the press, CIA, FBI, the Pentagon, Homeland Defense, etc so on and so forth. Not that it is a bad thing to get other countries involved, because Bush believes, as I think we all do, that islamo-fascist terrorism is a world wide problem, and the world should be united in fighting it. But combining all of these competing egos and interests slows things down quite a bit.
    Unfortunately, there are many people who don’t think that we should fight back against islamofascits, but instead make
    movies
    sympathizing with them and accept them into Ivy League schools.
    Mr. President, Faster Please!

  • JAF says:

    Rode is a word.
    I rode home on my harley and accidentally ran over my kat.
    See.

  • Lisa says:

    LOL JAF!
    I Kan’t spell somtimes ether!
    Lisa~:>)

  • Lisa says:

    Hi Tom,
    I never said I didn’t like this site. My point is most American people are having a difficult time trusting in Bush now because of a variety of reasons. If he would not have made so many mis-steps for the media to feast upon, the public would not have become so discouraged. Now I am not talking about those people that carry signs and stage protests, I am talking about ordinary working people. My point is I think his speeches may have come a day late. Also, JAF is correct in that we are very nervous about what is going to happen next.
    But on the bright side of things, I see where there is ACTUALLY good news being reported!
    3 Western Peace Activists Freed in Iraq
    Lisa~:>)

  • JAF says:

    Speaking of Presidential Mistakes, here is an article of interest regarding errors made by US Presidents.
    One of the things that I have to think about when I consider whether or not Bush messed up here or there is the Military leaders. From what I’m understanding, Bush relies on them immensely for their opinions and will generally defer much decision making to them. Bush appears to be a dice roller, a gambler. If the military screws it up, Bush takes the blame. If they succeed, the military gets the credit.
    BIG SHOUT OUT TO LISA!!!! ~

  • JAF says:

    Here is another hightly appropriate article:
    ..In 1861 neither Lincoln nor Davis could have won a fair vote for the war they wound up fighting. Lincoln nearly lost his office, and hence the war, over his decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1861 the North could not imagine the suffering of the next four years–and had Northern voters done so, they would have bid the South go in peace and left slavery’s chains intact. Thankfully, no one guessed the future (well, almost no one–Sherman came close), and the future was better because of it.

  • Tom says:

    Lisa,
    I guess my points is, you keep looking at the MSM for good news. Small tidbits of news such as the peace activists being freed are what I would expect from the AP, New York Times, etc. Therefore I, and most of the crowd I run with, refuse to bother pulling out a magnifying glass to extract positive, or factual news from those sources. Why? When you can get go to blogs such as this.
    Secondly, at least President Bush seems to direct policy by conviction, not poll numbers. If he makes a mistake, I can live with it. Apparently, so can he. Thirdly, would you not agree that President Clinton had his share of ‘mis-steps’?
    Tom

  • Lisa says:

    Hey Tom,
    President Clinton definitely had his share of missed pants:) I am sure that the problems we face today were not just created by the current administration but by a long line of mis-steps of past Presidents. I don’t want you to misunderstand me. I think that they probably HAD WMD but it was removed because they had plenty of time to remove it to another country. That has always been what I thought…but who knows.
    And If I were the President, there would have been WMD there because I would have made it be there, get my drift. Thank God I am not President:) I am sure Tom you are saying Thank God she is not President:)
    The problem now is not WMD but a series of mistakes or mis-steps that make the public extremely wary to trust again. I agree that there are more to things than the mass media report about however most American rely completely on that media for their news. Before I knew about this blog, I always relied upon the news via television, newspapers and magazines for the news. I feel that to stick to one arena of info and to close my mind to other forms of news be it mass media or this blog would only hurt me. I want to see the whole picture.
    Why did Bush wait to do these talks now? Because of the public failing support of the war and of him. He can only know that people feel that way by polls, letters, and emails telling him that. You cannot successfully be a leader when you have little support from your people.
    But we could argue about this all day. I just want to know what the plan is for what appears to be another big problem that Bill states above:
    Pakistan has essentially lost control of its border provinces in the tribal regions, and the renewed insurgency in Balochistan will only bleed off more forces needed to reestablish control in Waziristan – assuming the government has the will to do so. In the mean time, al-Qaeda and the Taliban are arming, training and pouring forces into Afghanistan in an attempt to derail the political progress and fragile security situation in the nascent democracy.
    What now?
    Lisa

  • Lisa says:

    JAF,
    Point well taken!
    In 1861 the North could not imagine the suffering of the next four years–and had Northern voters done so, they would have bid the South go in peace and left slavery’s chains intact. Thankfully, no one guessed the future (well, almost no one–Sherman came close), and the future was better because of it.
    Problem is we KNOW of some of the suffering we face.
    Lisa~:>)

  • JAF says:

    Lisa,
    I’m sure there are a lot of people working on that issue this very moment regarding the unruly tribal areas of Pakistan. I would love to know the plan myself, but if the plan is released to the public, then the enemy will know the plan and prepare against it. There are tons more going on in the shadows of this war that will forever stay there.
    Yup, I would love to know the plan, but will gladly live in the dark as long as the enemy does too.
    Remember the air strike done several weeks ago inside Pakistan in which we wacked several high level people? I’m just wondering if Zawahiri felt a chill realizing how death can come from above, even in their safe areas. I would love to have seen the fear in his face.

  • JAF says:

    Good point Lisa, but do we truly KNOW the cost of failure?
    This is something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Failure in our efforts will reverberate and set the stage for generations and centuries to come.
    If we fail, what more anarchy can we expect from emboldened terrorists groups in the Middle East?
    Having beaten back the super power with all its talk of freedom, regimes tremble in fear and institute stricter islamic laws or face overthrow.
    What will happen to those who seek true reform and enhanced human rights in these regions?
    Would a future president ignore warnings for fear of acting on those warnings only to find out they were overblown (WMDs).
    Would certain groups within the US (klan, gangs, leftists, militiaman) become emboldened and seek to use those same terrorist tactics here at home?
    Would dictators and tinpot thug leaders become emboldened and oppress their populations knowing the Americans will not risk another intervention?
    If Islamic fascism can’t be defeated, then would our choices be either to submit or destroy it completely?
    I can go on and on and forever, the true cost of failure will be paid for in the currency of blood and misery long after our children’s lives have gone.
    But there is one more thought that I must insist, would failure increase the probability of future wars being solved with a nuke? After all, what future American president will have the backbone to stand up to a hostile media, partisan sniping, and a population weary of bloodshed and sacrifice. Better to drop the bomb, screw them all, and let history pick up the pieces.

  • cjr says:

    Lisa:
    After >3 bloody years of war, Lincoln STILL won reelected in 1864 against McClellan who’s platform was to quit the war.

  • Lisa says:

    Wow, now that guys is something for me to chew on! I admire your convictions! That is what needed to be said to the American public!
    We ended World War II with the atom bomb…don’t think that is a good idea for now.
    We policed Korea and now over 50 years later we are talking about moving our soldiers out.
    We spent 8+ years in Vietnam fighting a formidable enemy that could quickly regenerate themselves.
    Three years into the Iraq War and the pages of history have only begun to be written on the America’s noble yet most difficult task to free the society.
    Lisa~:>)

  • Unknown says:

    As a person on the ground in Kandahar this is to let all be known the war in Afghanistan is going to get worse

  • JAF says:

    I’m wondering if there will be calls from the democrats to pull out of there too?

  • cjr says:

    Off topic but:
    Gen Lynch had an interesting comment in today’s Iraq briefing:
    “The report last week of 400 Al Quaeda trying to infiltrate the Green Zone in order to stage an attack was entirely false. After an investigation, no evidence of this was found.”
    I wonder if this fact will create as much media attention as the original report…..

  • cjr says:

    #21:
    US pullout is already happening. This has been in the works since 2004. NATO (France, Germany, Italy, UK, Dutch, Spain, Turkey, Netherlands, Austrailia, Romania, Canada) is taking over. Not exactly sure what the US will have in the end but its going from 3 bdes+Division HQ down to either 1 bde or entirely out. Anyone know which?

  • JAF says:

    Ah yes, thats right. NATO is taking over. Wonder what the status of the Afghan army is? Never hear to much about them and they are just as important as the Iraqi army.

  • cjr says:

    #24:
    Afghan Army:
    -35,000 troops as of 2/10. 31 battalions trained.
    –Goal is 50,000 by 2007 and 70,000 by 2009.
    Basic training is 10 weeks. 3400 in training at any one time.
    -63 M113 APC + 16 M577 delivered 4/05
    -As of 2/05, permanent corps HQ in the four regions of Afghanistan-North (Mazar-e-Sharif), South (Kandahar), East (Gardez) and West (Herat)-and in Kabul.
    -In summer05, there was 1 bde+ Corp HQ in each of Afghan’s 4 regions outside Kabul. Dont know where it is today.
    Afghan Police:
    -As of 12/05, 55000.
    -Goal is 62000 by 2009

  • hamidreza says:

    CJR – the Ministry of Interior claim that al-Qaeda was about to attack the green zone – was clearly a psyops attempt by the Shiite radicals. This was a tactic used by Khomeini during the internal war in Iran 1979-1980, in order to put their competitors off guard, and make them dependent on the Shiite militias for protection. They would then send the death squads to eliminate the competition and claim that is the purported enemy that they had forewarned against.
    Basically such claims means: “we wish to be in charge and offer protection, and anyone who opposes us may get a visit by this enemy – which is ourselves”.
    The capacity for Islamists to engage in KETMAAN (hiding your true desires and intentions, for the time that a grab can be successfully launched) and TAQIYYA (lying to further the cause) is infinite and it behooves US intelligence to understand this mentality and safeguard against it. Islamists do not abide by normal rules of engagement. US intelligence will be committing a grave mistake to lay faith in these elements who purport to be in favor of a pluralistic society.
    The whole Islamic ethos is to monopolize power at any cost, and this for them is a long term plan. Their patience is infinite. And basically anything goes. Even Sistani is suspect in this respect.
    Sadr needs to be eliminated, otherwise in 5 years he will turn into another Khomeini. The greatest danger to Iraq is the Shiite Islamists going to bed with the Sunni Islamists and pushing US and the seculars out, and dismantling or infiltrating the Iraqi Army. Even though they are historical enemies, but in the Islamic world, alliances are made in one day and broken another day.
    In the middle east, you are expected to play at the same level as your opponent. If the US does not eliminate and purge these Islamist radicals, while it can, it will be perceived as weak and will lose support. The Islamist militias will continue to grow and amass power at the local level. Playing one faction against another works to some extent. But is not a long term strategy. US must curry favor with ex-Baathists and nationalists, and bring them into the Iraqi Army and let them lose on the Islamists (both Shiite and then Sunni).
    If the Iraqi Army are the future of Iraq and are non-partisan forces of the central state, then let them go and pick up the Shiite radicals. This will undoubtedly quell the sectarian strife that is going on.
    Islamism in the 21st century is essentially identical to communism in the 1950s. It is a virulent ideology that also has a lot of western supporters and backers. It has to be confronted head on.

  • JAF says:

    Good post Hamidreza.
    By my calculations, we’re just not killing enough bad guys, even the ones we can easily find.
    Somedays I wonder if our generals are actually amnesty international in disguise.

  • cjr says:

    hamidreza. I’m probably vastly oversimplifying but:
    Is Turkey (stable, secular, tolerent, democratic, yet Islamic) a model that Iraq could follow?
    My understanding(correct me if I am wrong) is that the Turkish army is the central pillar of the Turkish state because it has proven capable of enforcing a tolerent democracy.
    If true, then an Iraqi army, properly trained and lead, could be sufficient to garrantee a tolerant democratic Iraq, in spite of Iraq’s sectarian and political divides…..Yes? No?

  • cjr says:

    #27
    No, our generals a not AI in disguise. They just know they dont have a choice. If they are not seen to be “sensitive to AI type issues”, there will be massive political reprecussions.
    In other words, its just wise to act that way.

  • hamidreza says:

    CJR – yes and no –
    The Turkish army is a product of the 100 years of secularization started by Ataturk, that even predates WWI. The Turkish army is currently under tremendous pressure to Islamicize and admit more Islamist officers. I am not sure what the state of the Turkish intelligence service is. But I am certain that it is not immune either, as most of these Islamists are the “nationalists” and “fascists” of yesterday.
    At this moment, there is an effort going on by Islamists to professionally eliminate the new Turkish Chief of Staff, who has yet to take on his post. I believe it is the Islamists that have launched a public attack on him, and claim he is “not a good Muslim”.
    As you say, the military is the central pillar in Turkish society and the bulwark against Islamism. But even that is not enough of a guarantee. The Pakistani military and intelligence services were and still are bastions of Islamism, and that is why Musharraf has so few degrees of freedom.
    It is not easy to guarantee the independence of the Iraqi army. The US is swimming against the current.
    US is trying to reverse the Islamist process in Iraq. It cannot be accomplished by a defensive posture, IMO. In many ways Iraq is actually an easier case, as there is a 3-way ethnic split in Iraqi society. Once the threat of al-Qaeda has been reduced, it is time to attack illegitimate force by legitimate force. Sadr and his 30 parliamentarians have to be eliminated. That is a good place to start.

  • Lisa says:

    hamidreza,
    How do you know these things? I am not saying that sarcastically but how do you know all these things?
    Lisa

  • hamidreza says:

    Lisa – For what it’s worth, by having first hand knowledge of Islam. And by having many bleeding-heart-selective-outrage-cultural-relativist types as close friends!

  • JAF says:

    Well Hamidreza, I’m glad that you are posting your thoughts here. Didn’t realize that Turkey was in such deep doo doo.

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