`Taliban changing strategy to regain control in Afghan`

The "new Taliban" also does not aspire to kill a lot of people, "just a few in the right places and in positions of power."

New York: In a change of strategy, the
Taliban in Afghanistan is now focussing on new and more subtle
ways, including limited but spectacular assaults, to
strengthen its position as the American-led forces prepare to
leave the country, a media report said on Thursday.

The "new Taliban" also does not aspire to kill a lot
of people, "just a few in the right places and in positions of
power." This the Taliban proved through the assassination of
former afghan President and head of Afghanistan`s peace
council Burhanuddin Rabbani, a report in the New York Times

While NATO forces may portray "the insurgents as a
diminished force less able to hold ground," the Taliban is
using new and more subtle ways of asserting themselves.
The broad shift in Taliban strategy includes focus
on intimidation, carefully chosen assassinations and limited
but spectacular assaults.

"While often avoiding large-scale combat with NATO
forces, the Taliban and their allies in the Haqqani network
have effectively undermined peace talks with the Afghan
government of President Hamid Karzai and sought to pave the
way for a gradual return to power as the American-led forces
begin scaling back military operations in the country."

Similarly assaults like the rocket attack on the
American Embassy in Kabul on September 13, shift the fight to
cities, "where it is harder for NATO to respond with air power
for fear of civilian casualities.

"They also allow the Taliban to capture the airwaves
for hours, especially in media-saturated cities, and fuel an
aura of crisis."

The report said the Rabbani assassination not only
demonstrated the insurgents` rejection of the peace process,
but it also reminded people of their ability to shape the next
chapter in the country`s history as the American forces
prepare to leave.

"Similarly, the Taliban have sought to remake their
image this year as a way of positioning themselves to play a
prominent role in Afghanistan?s future. It is a two-track

The Taliban are also leaning towards use of technology,
something that they once shunned, to subtly exert
power in the region.

In what the report describes as "cellphone
offensive", major carriers are forced to turn off their signal
towers in the evening, severing most of the connections to the
rest of the world.

"The shutoff sends a daily reminder to hundreds of
thousands, if not millions, of Afghans that the Taliban still
hold substantial sway over their future."

The Taliban also appear to bring together "locally
tailored" terrorist campaigns with new flexibility on issues
like education and business development.

"The combination plays on the uncertainty gnawing at
Afghans about the looming American withdrawal, while making
the most of the insurgency`s limited resources. The aim is to
undermine the Afghan government by making people question
whether it can protect them, while trying to project the image
of a group that is more open to the world than when the
Taliban ruled the country in the 1990s," the New York Times
report said.

The combat forces are scheduled to withdraw from
Afghanistan by the end of 2014, leaving the country`s security
in the hands of the Afghan security forces, who have so far
demonstrated limited ability to fight on their own.

"With that in mind, many Afghans are hedging their bets
and keeping avenues open to the Taliban because they believe
that the government may not protect them once NATO leaves."


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