A little something on mujahideen strategy in Afghanistan
I’ve been reading through the earlier chapters of my thesis today trying to cull words and quite frankly would prefer to stab myself in the eye with a pen. However, I digress.
Anyway, I came across this quote from an interview by Robert Kaplan in 1988 with an old mujahideen commander from the first Afghan war, who was executed by the Taliban in October 2001.
You want to know why it’s dumb to attack Jalalabad? Because it’s dumb to lose ten thousand lives. There’s no way the mujahidin can take the city now. It’s surrounded by a river, mountains, and minefields. And if we do take it, what’s going to happen? The Russians will bomb the shit out of us, that’s what….
And if they don’t bomb the shit out of us, then we have Jalalabad and they have Kabul—parity, two Afghan governments. Then there will be pressure for us to negotiate. No, we must take no cities. Take everything but.
The last three sentences struck me, and to my mind, little has changed in mujahideen strategy since then. The Taliban may carry out attacks in the big cities, but they too follow this strategy. Of course after a US withdrawal this would no doubt change, but until then this strategy will stand.