Starting in February, 15,000 US, British and Afghan troops started taking over the Taliban-held area of Marjah and Nad Ali in Helmand province. Dozens of embedded journalists trumpeted the significance of Operation Moshtarak, as it was called, as the first fruits of General McChrystal's new strategy which was meant to emulate the supposed success of the "surge" in Iraq in 2007.For how long must British troops fight and die in an unwinnable war? The new UK government must surely take the opportunity to look for an early exit strategy.
Three months after the operation in Marjah, however, local people say that the Taliban still control the area at night. Shops are still closed and no schools have reopened. Education officials who returned at the height of the US-led offensive have fled again. The local governor says he has just one temporary teacher teaching 60 children in the ruins of a school. Aid is not arriving. The Taliban are replacing mines, the notorious IEDs, removed by US troops and often use the same holes to hide them in.
Pentagon officials increasingly agree with the Afghan villagers that the Marjah operation failed to end Taliban control and put the Afghan government in charge.
16 May 2010
We are not winning
The problems of Afghanistan seem to have been sidelined in the light of the election here and the economic problems in Europe. But progress in that benighted land has literally been thin on the ground. The Independent reports: