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Taliban Fail To Deter Afghan Election

5:03 PM, Aug 20, 2009 • By BILL ROGGIO
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Despite several weeks of huffing and puffing about disrupting Afghanistan's election to decide the next president and provincial council representatives, the Taliban had a poor showing today. There were 73 recorded acts of violence in 15 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces; 27 people were killed on elections day, including eight Afghan soldiers, nine police officers, nine civilians, and one US soldier. Security forces stopped suicide bombers in Kabul while small arms attacks were suppressed in Paktika and Baghlan.

It's not that the Taliban lacked targets; there were almost 7,000 polling sites the Taliban could have hit. The Taliban only succeeded in blocking polling in eight of Afghanistan's 398 districts. Those eight districts were already deemed to be under Taliban control.

What won't be known is how successful the Taliban were in intimidating voters to stay away from the polls. Turnout in many areas is said to be low, but a portion of low turnout can also be attributed to voter apathy.

While the Taliban have been resurgent over the past several years, they clearly do not possess the strength to shut down a national event like an election. Events like today's shed light on the limitations and weaknesses of the enemy. The Taliban's power still rests in the shadows, at night, when security forces return to their bases. That is a problem, a major one that can only be fixed by boosting NATO and Afghan security forces and restoring a measure of legitimacy to the Afghan government. And making those two things happen is another set of problems. But we can see today that the Taliban also have problems of their own.