Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Taliban on target

Our election that is (via Danjanou):
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- The Taliban say they know that an election campaign is underway in Canada and that's why they have stepped up attacks against Canadians in Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesman Qari Muhammad Yussef said Tuesday the insurgent movement wants Canada's next prime minister to pull Canadian troops out of Afghanistan.

"Yes, I know that the election is being held in Canada. That is why our attacks on Canadians are increased," Yussef said through a translator.

"One of the Canadian soldiers, who has won a medal as well, was killed in our recent attacks."

Sgt. Scott Shipway died Sunday when his armoured vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in the volatile Panjwaii district of Kandahar.

The seasoned soldier, who was cited for saving a comrade's life during his previous tour in Afghanistan in 2006, was just days away from the end of his second tour when the blast occurred.

Yussef said he's familiar with Prime Minister Stephen Harper but isn't sure about the other candidates or parties running in the Canadian election.

While he doesn't know which party is most likely to withdraw Canadian troops from Afghanistan, Yussef said such a platform will be "good for that party and for their nation and for the Canadian people."

"My suggestion for the next prime minister is to withdraw Canadians from Afghanistan," he said, adding Canada needs to stop following U.S. foreign policy...
Given the actual pre-election call dates of the most recent fatalities I think Mr Yussef is just spinning bull. But the Talibs are awfully good at spinning--and they certainly are targeting Western publics.

More on the Taliban's PR prowess: what the Taliban are reading--and work hard to read:
Afghan [actually Canadian] deaths may hurt Tory campaign
I worry that, if M.Dion's position looks desperate in a few weeks and if there are quite a few more fatalities, he may throw the Liberals' agreement to extending the mission until 2011 to the winds and demand a much earlier withdrawal of Canadian troops. Thereby handing the Taliban quite a political victory--and maybe getting a lot of votes.


Blogger Don said...

Well Mark,
It was not Dion that blinked but Harper.


Harper ups the Afghanistan ante
Article Comments (76) STEVEN CHASE

Globe and Mail Update and Canadian Press

September 10, 2008 at 10:41 AM EDT

TORONTO — Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is vowing his government would completely withdraw Canadian troops from Afghanistan in 2011 -- a promise that goes beyond a Parliamentary motion this year which merely committed to pull soldiers out of Kandahar province.

Military analysts have warned it's a bad idea strategically to set a definite end date for withdrawing from Afghanistan but Mr. Harper says he thinks even the Canadian military wants to quit the country in 2011.

The statement is a change for Mr. Harper, who had acknowledged in April that it was possible down the road that Canada's NATO allies might ask Ottawa to extend its Afghan commitment beyond 2011.

The March 13 2008 resolution, backed by both the Conservatives and Liberals, said: “The government of Canada notify NATO that Canada will end its presence in Kandahar as of July 2011, add, as of that date, the redeployment of Canadian Forces troops out of Kandahar and their replacement by Afghan forces start as soon as possible, so that it will have been completed by December 2011.”

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Mr. Harper said the Canadian public has no appetite to keep soldiers in the war-torn country any longer than the pullout date already agreed upon by Parliament.

“You have to put an end date on these things,” Mr. Harper told reporters during a breakfast briefing. “We intend to end it.”

The Afghan government will at some point have to go it alone, he said, whether it's ready or not. Development assistance for the war-torn country will continue, he added, and a relative handful of troops would likely stay behind to offer technical support to those coalition countries that remain.

The Conservative Leader's statement comes as the death toll for Canadians in Afghanistan approaches 100, and as the Taliban warn they plan to step up attacks during the election campaign.

12:02 p.m., September 10, 2008  
Blogger Ian said...

Heh. I came here just to post that link. I'm curious what Mark thinks about how this will effect things. It's not a immediate pull-out like you were worried with Dion, but it puts a firm date on things. To me it seems like a bit like an impulse announcement, but maybe this was on his list.

(Long time listener (your RSS feed), first time caller. I enjoy all the insight here.)

1:08 p.m., September 10, 2008  
Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

I won't answer for Mark, but to me, it says - like any number of moves by Harper and the CPC over the past couple of years - that they're more interested in power than in principle.

And that's a damned shame.

(...which isn't to say the CPC won't bugger things up less than the other guys on balance, just that they're far less than they should be on this and any number of other issues...)

2:56 p.m., September 10, 2008  

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