Taliban buying time for guerrilla war
ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan’s Taliban militia is fighting for its survival and gearing for a protracted guerrilla war from the rugged mountains and caves, analysts said Tuesday.

They added, however, that if the Taliban were falling back on a strategy used so successfully against Soviet forces two decades ago, they may have trouble sustaining it for lack of support from the outside world.

In a series of stunning reversals, the opposition Northern Alliance backed by US warplanes has swept the Taliban forces from virtually all of northern Afghanistan and the capital Kabul. The Taliban now appear to be moving into a patch of the country dominated by the ethnic Pashtun stretching from the east of Kabul southward through the mountains and down to the southern plains, a well-informed Taliban source told AFP.

“War in Afghanistan is not fought in cities and towns. The decisive war is fought in the mountains and caves and they are under our control,” said the source.

“We have already moved weapons, essential food items and heads of cattle to safer sites in mountains from where we will fight.”

Riffat Hussain, head of the Department of Strategic Studies at Islamabad’s Quaid-e-Azam University, said the same tactics helped the Afghan mujahedin end 10 years of Soviet occupation in 1989.

“The Taliban retreat from Kabul with all their human and military assets intact marks the begining of the new phase of this war which will be fought along the guerrilla warfare lines,” Hussain said. “This phase can be interminably long.”

While hunkering down in the mountains, caves and rural towns, the Taliban are also buying time to see if the Northern Alliance, an uneasy coalition of mostly ethnic minorities, will explode into a new round of infighting.

“The Taliban would like to take advantage of the possible contradictions within the Northern Alliance,” said Hussain. “The Northern Alliance knows that they are a house divided.”
( AFP )