Preparing For New Spring Offensive
According to this story from the Asia Times, the Taliban are preparing for their spring offensive against NATO troops in Afghanistan, following months of heavy conflict against Pakistan security forces the tribal regions of Pakistan :
...Taliban leader Mullah Omar has put his foot down and reset the goals for the Taliban: their primary task is the struggle in Afghanistan, not against the Pakistan state.
Mullah Omar has sacked his own appointed leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, the main architect of the fight against Pakistani security forces, and urged all Taliba commanders to turn their venom against North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces, highly placed contacts in the Taliban told Asia Times Online.
This major development occurred at a time when Pakistan was reaching out with an olive branch to the Pakistani Taliban. Main commanders, including Hafiz Gul Bahadur and the main Afghan Taliban based in Pakistan, Sirajuddin Haqqani, signed peace agreements. But al-Qaeda elements, including Tahir Yuldashev, chief of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, undermined this initiative.
"We refused any peace agreement with the Pakistani security forces and urged the mujahideen fight for complete victory," Yuldashev said in a jihadi video message seen by Asia Times Online. Yuldashev's closest aide and disciple, Mehsud, last week carried out an attack on a Pakistani security post and then seized two forts in the South Waziristan tribal area.
As a result, Pakistan bombed South Waziristan and sent in heavy artillery and tanks for a major operation against Mehsud. Other important commanders are now in North Waziristan and they support the peace agreements with the Pakistani security forces.
Pakistan's strategic quarters maintain the planned operation in South Waziristan is aimed particularly at eliminating Mehsud.
According to Taliban quarters in Afghanistan that Asia Times Online spoke to recently, the Taliban have well-established pockets around Logar, Wardak and Ghazni, which are all gateways to the capital Kabul.
Many important districts in the southwestern provinces, including Zabul, Helmand, Urzgan and Kandahar, are also under the control of the Taliban. Similarly, districts in the northwestern, including Nimroz, Farah and Ghor, have fallen to the Taliban.
Certainly, the Taliban will be keen to advance from these positions, but they will also concentrate on destroying NATO's supply lines from Pakistan into Afghanistan. The Taliban launched their first attack in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province on Monday, destroying a convoy of oil tankers destined for NATO's Kandahar air field.
"If NATO's supply lines are shut down from Pakistan, NATO will sweat in Afghanistan," a member of a leading humanitarian organization in Kabul told Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity. "The only substitute would be air operations, but then NATO costs would sky-rocket."
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