Some good news from the Middle East: For the first time since the U.S. went to war with Afghanistan almost 10 years ago, the Taliban is starting a new season of fighting with a deficit of control and territorial influence compared to the year before. Signs of U.S. progress and weakening Taliban influence in three regions led Gen. David Petraeus to say he believes that, “We start this year in a very different place from last year." However, senior U.S. officers said they expect Taliban insurgents to adopt new tactics to make up for the lack, such as a renewed focus on homemade explosives, suicide bombers, and assassinating Afghan government officials. (Just last week, the Taliban killed the police chief in Kandahar province.) If these tactics are successful, the summer could be a violent one for both Americans and Afghans. In the three months until July—when Obama has promised to begin pulling out U.S. troops—the president must decide how these signs of progress will factor into the drawdown.
WAR REPORT AP Photo, Brennan Linsley