Talking to the Taliban (The Canadian Globe and Mail Video-Report)

Understanding the insurgents is a basic part of reporting on the Afghan war, but it’s a remarkably difficult task. I’ve had several meetings with individual Taliban since I started covering Afghanistan, but personal contacts with the insurgents are growing more dangerous because they have started kidnapping journalists.

So we decided to try an unscientific survey.

What resulted was videos of 42 Taliban foot soldiers who were interviewed by a researcher able to get into places that would be off-limits for anybody without strong connections to the insurgency. Those interviews were circulated privately among Mr. Smith’s sources in Kandahar and Kabul to gather opinions about the authenticity of the material and reaction to the Taliban statements.

The result: Stories about tribal wars, the poppy trade, the role Pakistan plays in the insurgency and how the concept of suicide bombing is changing within the Taliban ranks, have stirred debate and discussion, both for and against…

Air strikes and drug eradication are feeding the insurgency in southern Afghanistan, as those actions convince some villagers that their lives and livelihoods are under attack…

Civilian bombings emerged as a major theme of the war last year. President Hamid Karzai shed tears in public as he spoke about civilian deaths. In June, a coalition of Afghan aid agencies published a controversial report suggesting that the rate of civilian casualties had doubled from the previous year, and that international forces were starting to rival the Taliban as the greatest source of civilian deaths.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization disputed the aid groups’ figures, but quietly took action to reduce the likelihood of killing civilians. A report from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this month said that international forces had reviewed standard operating procedures for aerial engagement with a view to reducing collateral deaths caused from the air…

The Taliban are usually reluctant to admit that they’re fighting for any causes other than religion, but they have recently embraced civilian deaths as a rallying point. Insurgents have helped journalists arrange interviews with victims in the aftermath of air strikes in southern Afghanistan, and NATO soldiers have repeatedly witnessed the Taliban forcing civilians into dangerous situations in hopes of getting them killed by foreign troops, thus evoking the wrath of the village.

The Globe and Mail’s survey was not scientific, but it offers a sample of the insurgents’ views on the topic. Asked specifically about bombings by foreign troops, almost a third of respondents claimed their family members had died in such incidents during the current war.

Some insurgents complained about bombings by Russian aircraft in the 1980s in addition to recent air strikes under the Karzai government, suggesting that memories of the Soviet invasion fuel some of the current opposition to U.S. and NATO troops…

Talking to the Taliban (Graeme Smith for theglobeandmail.com)

Missie-Afghanistan (VKblogsite)

Is afzijdigheid van Nederland in Pakistan, Afghanistan en Irak, werkelijk ‘naief’?

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2 thoughts on “Talking to the Taliban (The Canadian Globe and Mail Video-Report)

  1. Het zelfde JA-MITS verhaal zou bij Hamas of de Palestijnen kunnen passen. LUISTEREN doe je naar je vijand zegt o.a. bisschop Tutu. Blijkbaar wil de politiek in Nederland niet zover gaan…
    Reden? Weet jij het?

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