Sunday, February 07, 2010

Further on Marja

As the US Marine commander who judged the Taliban to be ''idiots'' beat his war drum this week, one of his Afghan counterparts offered more sage advice, warning that the Marines could not rely on all the forces that would join them in the battle. Worried in particular about the local police, the Afghan officer told reporters: "We think they are working with al-Qaeda in Marja."

  Sydney Morning Herald

The [planned attack on Marja...] is expected to begin any day.

Preparations have been under way for weeks, with Nato helicopters dropping leaflets on the area warning residents to flee.


Provincial officials said about 35,000 residents of Marja were taking the advice and heading to other parts of Helmand.


"Advice." So very Falluja.

But this is different from Falluja:

After they seize Marja, the Afghan, American and British officials intend to install a functioning government and police force to help prevent the Taliban from returning. They say they are hoping that much of the Taliban force leaves Marja before the battle starts; hence the early announcement.


Interesting plan. Keep Taliban fighters moving out of one area into another and you have a perfect scenario for setting up your own forces all over the country.

Obviously this is not a war to get the Taliban out. It's a war to get us in.

On second thought, maybe that's not different from Falluja. Maybe that was the plan there, although at the time it seemed purely vengeful. Either way, it didn't work out so well.

Our data show that [civilian] casualties are a significant predictor of Afghans' views on U.S. efforts in their country; where civilian deaths and injuries are higher, so is opposition to the allied cause.


58 percent in Helmand report civilians killed or injured in the last year as a result of actions by U.S. or NATO/ISAF forces. In the rest of Afghanistan it’s 19 percent.


In another measure, just 18 percent in Helmand report strong local support for the United States among the people in their area; alarmingly, 25 percent report strong local support for the Taliban.


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