In Afghanistan, the Taliban insurgency is spreading, even reaching some provinces in the north that had never been its strongholds. Last week, Taliban fighters attacked a district only 45 miles from the capital, Kabul. Afghans increasingly fear that NATO and Afghan forces will lose the war.
As the fighters reach more and more towns and villages, suicide attacks are on the rise in once peaceful areas.
For many, the recent attack by 100 Taliban fighters in the province of Kapisa, a largely Tajik enclave 60 miles from Kabul, illustrates the strengthening hold of the group across Afghanistan.
Some Western and Afghan officials are reluctantly admitting that the Taliban exert a lot of control over most of the southern and eastern provinces — and the group appears to be strengthening its hold on the Farah province to the west.
The Taliban has shown a growing skill for taking advantage of the corruption-plagued and weakened government of President Hamid Karzai and clan rivalries that can destabilize whole regions.
The Taliban's unholy alliance with opium smugglers, who also benefit from the government's loss of power, is another key factor in the Taliban's resurgence.
One former Taliban official and Afghan author on the group says the Taliban's goal at this stage is not to take over Afghanistan — which they neither have the manpower nor popular support for — but to force the ouster of Western troops from Afghanistan.