Taliban Weakens in Afghanistan's South
But progress is 'fragile and reversible,' says Petraeus
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2011 5:14 PM CDT
US Marines from 3rd Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment patrol down the main road in the Wishtan area of Sangin district southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/ Sebastian Abbot)

(Newser) – Rare good news from Afghanistan: The Taliban is losing ground in the south, meaning that “we start this year in a very different place from last year,” Gen. David Petraeus says. For the first time since the beginning of the war, the Taliban’s summer fighting season begins with less control in the south than they enjoyed the year prior. In a lengthy piece, the Washington Post looks at three insurgent-ridden regions where progress has been made: Sangin, Zhari, and Arghandab.

But the progress is “fragile and reversible,” Petraeus warns, and many wonder if the gains will hold as new Taliban leaders arrive from Pakistan. Some senior US officers expect new tactics, including more homemade explosives, new suicide bombers, and assassinations. Other military officials and diplomats worry that the Afghan government will not be able to sustain the progress after the US and NATO withdraw. Meanwhile, security in eastern Afghanistan has deteriorated. President Obama will have to take all of that into account before July, when he has promised to begin pulling out troops.