Monday, March 07, 2005

Yahoo! News - U.S. General: Omar Loses Control of Afghan Insurgency

Yahoo! News - U.S. General: Omar Loses Control of Afghan Insurgency

KABUL (Reuters) - Fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has lost control of the insurgency in Afghanistan and the number of attacks has fallen dramatically, a senior U.S. general said Monday.

Taliban spokesmen have said attacks will resume once the harsh Afghan winter is over.

But Major General Eric T. Olson told a news conference in Kabul that the Taliban lacked cohesion and were a fading force in the southern and southeast provinces that had been their strongholds.

“We believe that this spring there will be a number of factors combined to make this so-called spring offensive much less effective and much lesser scale than we’ve seen in the past in Afghanistan,” said Olson.
Many saw the Taliban's inability to mount an effective threat to last October's presidential election as a sign the movement was a spent and demoralized force.

Olson said about 30 fighters, described as mid-level in the Taliban, had surrendered to U.S.-led forces recently.

Karzai has said his government is in contact with Taliban members and the amnesty offer will not extend to Mullah Omar or up to 150 of his most hardened followers.

Omar's whereabouts remains a mystery, said Olson, but the U.S. general was convinced that wherever he is, Omar no longer exerts control over the Taliban.

"It seems very clear to us, given the disjointed and uncoordinated effort that the Taliban has been able to launch, that those types of leaders, Mullah Omar specifically, are not exercising an effective command and control over Taliban operations in Afghanistan."

He put this down to the success of U.S.-led forces in both combat operations and in winning over support from local communities, leaving the insurgents isolated.

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