AN ASIA TIMES
ONLINE EXCLUSIVE Taliban eat into Afghanistan's
core By Hamza Ameer and
Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud
ISLAMABAD - As the
United States steps up efforts to engage the
Taliban and al-Qaeda in a peace process for
Afghanistan, elements of the Taliban have
initiated their own plan focusing on regaining the
power they lost in 2001 following the US-led
This involves hijacking the
efforts and finances that the US is investing in
training and equipping the Afghan National Army
(ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP).
Well-placed sources in the Taliban who are
based in the Pakistan tribal region on the border
with Afghanistan have told Asia Times Online on
the condition of anonymity that massive numbers from
both the ANA and the ANP
will switch and join the Taliban on the eve of the
scheduled withdrawal of foreign forces from
Afghanistan. The US and North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO) set a deadline for all
security tasks to be transferred to Afghan forces
by the end of 2014. However, this week, US Defense
Secretary Leon Panetta said that US troops would
phase out their combat role by mid-2013.
NATO plans to expand the size of
Afghanistan's security forces from the current
310,000 to 350,000 soldiers and police while
Washington currently has about 90,000 troops in
Afghanistan, down from a high of just over 100,000
last summer. It plans to withdraw another 22,000
by the end of this summer. In all, the
International Security Assistance Force numbers
130,000 with troops from 50 nations.
many as 32 policemen of the puppet Afghan army
have already switched sides and joined the
mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate in Wardaj,
Badakhshan province [in the northeast of
Afghanistan], handing their weapons over to the
mujahideen and vowing to fight against the
invading forces and their minions," a Taliban
member told Asia Times Online.
source claimed that leading commanders of both the
ANA and the ANP had contacted Taliban leaders
through tribal liaisons in southeastern,
southwestern and northern Afghanistan and
requested to join the Taliban unreservedly once
the peace talks bore fruit and paved the way for
the draw-down of foreign troops.
peace talks are already a source of controversy.
This week, the Afghan Taliban denied planning to
hold preliminary talks with representatives from
the Afghan government in Saudi Arabia. Taliban
spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said this was "not
The talks would be separate from
planned negotiations between the Taliban and the
US in Qatar, where the Taliban aim to establish an
A top Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan
(Pakistan Taliban) commander, Mullah Nazeer Ahmad,
independently confirmed the Taliban claims of
planned defections from the ANA and the ANP. His
militants hold sway in the South Waziristan tribal
area and across the border in Afghanistan's
Paktika, Zabul, Ghazni and Kandahar provinces.
The sources refused to reveal the names or
positions of the ANA an ANP commanders who had
expressed a willingness to defect due to security
reasons and the likelihood of retribution against
them from the authorities.
said that they would join the Taliban with their
arms caches. In light of this, the Taliban would
stop attacking them as a sign of goodwill and
focus on foreign troops.
After the end of
the Taliban rule in late 2001, the new Afghan
National Army was formed by NATO states. Billions
of dollars worth of military equipment, facilities
and other forms of aid has been provided to the
ANA. Some of the weapons arrived from the US,
including Humvees and other trucks, M-16 assault
rifles, body armored jackets and other types of
vehicles and military equipment. The support also
included the building of a national military
command center and training compounds in different
parts of the country.
There were more than
4,000 American military trainers in late 2009 and
additional numbers from other NATO member states,
providing advanced warfare training to the Afghan
armed forces and police.
The ANA is
divided into six regional corps, with about
180,000 active troops as of December 2011,
although others claim only 100,000 troops are
The current Afghan National Police
was also established after the removal of the
Taliban. It receives funding, training and
equipment from NATO states. Various local and
federal government employees from the US,
Germany's Bundespolizei and the United Kingdom's
Ministry of Defense Police provided most of the
The ANP - which serves as a
single law enforcement agency across the country -
had about 126,000 active members in May 2011, a
number that is expected to reach 160,000 by 2014.
The reputation of the ANA and the ANP has
already been tarnished by their members attacking
the foreign soldiers training them. In the latest
incident this week, man in an ANA uniform killed a
NATO service member in southern Afghanistan.
In January, an Afghan soldier killed four
French troops, and as a result French President
Nicolas Sarkozy suspended all training operations
and combat help. In December, another Afghan
soldier killed two French soldiers serving in an
"The French army is
not in Afghanistan to be shot at by Afghan
soldiers," Sarkozy said after the January
shooting, according to CNN.
36,000 troops in Afghanistan, the second-largest
number after the US. They mainly patrol rugged
Kapisa province in central Afghanistan north of
French forces were due to start
handing over security to the ANA in March 2012
until their complete withdrawal by 2013.
NATO analysis last year found that 52 US and
allied soldiers had been killed in "green on blue"
attacks between 2005 and June of 2011.
Hamza Ameer is a Pakistan-based
journalist. He is a news correspondent for Press
TV Iran & Egypt News. Ihsanullah Tipu
Mehsud is a Pakistani-based correspondent.
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