US general claims 30 percent of Afghanistan population is controlled or contested by Taliban

The Taliban and allies control about 10 percent of the population. However, another 20 percent is contested leaving the Afghan government with control of 70 percent of the population.

The claim above is made by General John Nicholson, the commander of NATO's Resolute Support and US Forces in Afghanistan. Nicholson characterized the situation as a positive development since the Taliban are operating primarily in rural areas. At a press briefing Nicholson said to reporters:
“We believe the Afghans control or heavily influence 68 to 70 percent of the population. We believe the enemy control or influence about 10 percent of the population. And then the balance, roughly a quarter, is in play, is contested. This is a positive in the sense of the majority of the population is under control of the government forces and this primarily the population centers, and so on, and the enemy is primarily in more rural areas that have less impact on the future of the country.”
Although Nicholson downplayed the importance of the Taliban presence in rural areas, the Taliban raises funds in the areas, recruits and trains fighters. The Taliban then launch punishing attacks on urban areas including the capital Kabul. Nicholson also claimed that recent reports of concerted attacks on some provincial capitals were exaggerating the security situation, When asked what percentage of Afghan territory the Taliban control, Nicholson would not answer and said only that his estimate is based upon population control.
The Long War Journal estimate based on press reports, military and government statements, and the claims of the Taliban, is that the Taliban control about 10 percent of the districts and contests another 12 percent. Control means the Taliban are openly administering a district providing services, security, and running their own court services. In contested areas, the government may be in contol of the central city of the district but little else. The Taliban often occupy a center briefly and then leave as the cost of holding it is regarded as too high. The Journal also says it is likely that additional districts are also contested or controlled by the Taliban. These additional districts could very well bring the total population contested or controlled close to that of Nicholson. The Taliban control and contest more territory than at any time since US-lead forces invaded after the 9/11 attack.
Nicholson also said that there were up to 1,300 Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan. He claimed they received aid and guidance from the leadership in Syria. While Nicholson still described the overall situation as positive since the Afghan government controlled most of the population and larger cities, General Joe Dunford Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the situation was a stalemate in remarks to the U.S. Senate. As well as controling more territory than ever since the invasion, the Taliban is closing in on a number of important provincial capitals including Talin Kot, Lashkar Gah, and Kunduz. Kunduz already was taken once by the Taliban and then recaptured.


Popular posts from this blog

Danish company uses high tech solution to save water

Interview with UN Envoy Martin Kobler on situation in Libya

Dogs in small Finnish town to be fitted with special wolf-protection vests