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New York Times: The Surge Is Working

5:35 PM, Dec 16, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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The New York Times doesn't come right out and say the surge is working--actually a Taliban commander tells the Times that the surge is working in Kandahar:

As the Obama administration reviews its strategy in Afghanistan, residents and even a Taliban commander say the surge of American troops this year has begun to set back the Taliban in parts of their southern heartland and to turn people against the insurgency — at least for now.

The stepped-up operations in Kandahar Province have left many in the Taliban demoralized, reluctant to fight and struggling to recruit, a Taliban commander said in an interview this week. Afghans with contacts in the Taliban confirmed his description. They pointed out that this was the first time in four years that the Taliban had given up their hold of all the districts around the city of Kandahar, an important staging ground for the insurgency and the focus of the 30,000 American troops whom President Obama ordered to be sent to Afghanistan last December.

“To tell you the truth, the government has the upper hand now” in and around Kandahar, the Taliban member said. A midlevel commander who has been with the movement since its founding in 1994 and knows it well, he was interviewed by telephone on the condition that his name not be used.

NATO commanders cautioned that progress on the battlefield remained tentative. It will not be clear until next summer if the government and the military can hold on to those gains, they said. Much will depend on resolving two problems: improving ineffectual local governments and strengthening Afghan troops to fight in NATO’s place.

The Taliban commander said the insurgents had made a tactical retreat and would re-emerge in the spring as American forces began to withdraw.

But in a dozen interviews, Afghan landowners, tribal elders and villagers said they believed that the Taliban could find it hard to return if American troops remained.

Read the rest here.

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