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Taliban attacks sound alarm before Kandahar

Assaults on NATO bases didn't succeed militarily, but might have boosted fighters' morale.

“[Improvised Explosive Devices] are just so common now,” said van Linschoten. “The Taliban obviously want to get written about.”

In early May, the Taliban leadership promised to counter the U.S. troop surge and accompanying military offensives with their own campaign, dubbed Al Fateh, or victory.

The past week was a taste of what is to come, according to political analyst and parliamentary candidate Janan Mosazai.

“These attacks are a clear signal that the Taliban is very much alive, and more resurgent than in the past few years,” he said. “It also indicates that the American plan for the Kandahar operation is no magic bullet.”

The U.S. forces have devoted a great deal of publicity to Operation Omid, the proposed offensive to clear the Taliban out of Kandahar, the movement’s spiritual birthplace and symbolic center. Kandahar has been touted as the make-or-break operation of the war, giving the U.S. military very little wiggle room if things should go wrong.

But the Taliban’s new boldness may upset the U.S.’s carefully designed public relations campaign on Kandahar, said Mosazai.

“The United States military has engaged in a significant propaganda effort around Kandahar, much like they did in Marjah,” he said, referring to Operation Moshtarak, the combined offensive in Helmand province that was called “the decisive battle” of the war that would “break the back” of the Taliban.”

Instead, Marjah, a small area in Helmand famed for poppy and insurgency, is now as chaotic as ever.

“The people in Marjah are worse off now than they were before, although the operation was seen as a success,” said Mosazai.

Kandahar, a city of close to 1 million people, will be much more in the public eye than Marjah, and the Taliban, with their new boldness, seem determined to deny the international forces a public perception of victory.

“The Taliban are trying to show that Kandahar will not be as uncontested as the U.S. military might think,” said van Linschoten.