'Fighting Season' Underway For Taliban
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
QUIL LAWRENCE: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: And what is the government in Kabul making of the violence these past days?
LAWRENCE: The attacks on Bagram and Kandahar, they didn't cause so many casualties, but it seemed to have been designed to send a message. Sort of a rallying cry for the Taliban's upcoming spring offensive. It was a sort of a kamikaze attack, small arms against the biggest bases in the country. But it shows that the Taliban can still recruit people for this sort of kamikaze raid.
MONTAGNE: And American troops have been pouring into Kandahar, which is supposed to be the next big step in clearing the Taliban out of the south, but that offensive appears to be either on hold or being transformed into something slightly different.
LAWRENCE: The trouble is that the Obama administration has a timetable where they're hoping to see really measurable success by the winter and then start to announce a drawdown of the troops that they've been surging into Afghanistan.
MONTAGNE: And part of that strategy involves negotiations with the Taliban. I mean, the U.S. even agrees, along with the Afghan government, that some negotiations would have to take place. But is there any progress on that?
LAWRENCE: At the same time, President Karzai has touted this upcoming peace jirga, an assembly to start a discussion. It's not clear who's coming to that and how long that will take. They say it's the beginning of a very long process. But we've just heard this morning that it's been delayed yet again - the third time it's been rescheduled. Now, it should start here in Kabul on the 2nd of June.
MONTAGNE: Quil, thanks very much.
LAWRENCE: Thank you.
MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.
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