Home inContext Is the Taliban’s Momentum ‘Broke’?

Is the Taliban’s Momentum ‘Broke’?

Erin Dwyer

Taliban insurgents killed at least 11 policemen and civilians in an attack against Governor Mohammad Akram Khapalwak’s office this Thursday. The alleged assassination attempt was executed by four attackers wearing suicide vests disguised as Afghan police officers in the western Farah Province, which borders Iran and has been afflicted by Taliban insurgents for more than a decade. Equipped with rocket propelled grenades, small arms, and hand grenades, only two attackers succeeded in detonating their suicide vests before being shot down by security forces.

Less than three weeks ago a similar assassination attempt against the governor of Kandahar Province was thwarted after two Taliban insurgents hiding pistols in their shoes evaded a U.S. operated full-body scanner. Additionally, militants concealed in burkas targeted a foreign housing compound in a suicide car bomb assault that killed seven people just two hours after President Obama’s departure from Kabul where he announced, “We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan security forces”.

Smoke rises from the site of an attack near the Afghan parliament in Kabul on April 15, 2012 at the start of the Taliban’s Spring Offensive. (Photo: REUTERS/Pajhwok News Agency)

The recent violence incited by Taliban militants largely symbolizes an enduring commitment to its 2012 “Spring Offensive” that commenced last month with a series of coordinated attacks that left 47 dead. Responsible for more than three-quarters of civilian deaths in 2011, the Taliban’s Spring Offensive targets government employees, tribal leaders, and those opposed to Taliban ideals or associated with the foreign “occupation”. Afghanistan’s Interior Minister has responded by condemning the terrorist organization for manipulating Islam’s religious values in order to justify criminal activities.

Still, the U.S. military continues to pursue negotiations with Taliban officials, even as the group executed 25 ranking members for engaging in talks without authorization. Worse yet, in an arrangement that showcases the Obama administration’s flawed foreign policy, the U.S. military is employing a “strategic release” program that frees high-level detainees in Afghan prisons in exchange for a promise to renounce violence.

Far from being broke, the Taliban appears to be gaining momentum and current U.S. policies appear to be helping them in their efforts.