Battle for Marjeh: The Taliban strong hold

Maulana Jalaluddin Roomi’s prediction indeed has come true: “The Giants come forward from Afghanistan and influence the world.”


A “massive build-up” is afoot for the battle of Marjeh, which is the strong-hold of Taliban in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. About fifteen thousand ground troops, reinforced by twenty thousand Afghan Army and police force will launch the offensive, supported by the entire US-NATO air power in Afghanistan. The objective is “to inflict a crushing defeat” on the Taliban, at Marjeh, which is considered “a bastion of Taliban power,” and set the momentum for their defeat in other areas, thus restoring government control over the territories of Afghanistan. Indeed, it is a very ambitious plan against the Taliban, who control thirty provinces, out of thirty four and rule the country-side. The surge of 30,000 American troops to be completed by August this year is expected to accomplish the task of restoring government control over Afghanistan.

The Google picture of Marjeh and the surrounding areas, gives a better explanation of the impending battle: Marjeh which lies about 15 KM west of Lashkargah – the provincial capital of Helmand is a plain sandy area with scattered mud huts, and a green belt to the south and the west, fed by the Helmand River. The green belt is sparsely populated with about 6-7000 people. The area is open, not at all suited for positional defence, nor for hit and run operations of the Taliban. In the vast open areas, the coalition air power and the mobile armoured troops would be able to drastically limit Taliban movement and their operational effectiveness. What kind of resistance, therefore the coalition forces are expecting for which the “massive build-up”, is taking place?

Taliban are well-versed in this game of fighting in the desert regions of South and the rugged mountains, for the last thirty years. They are the die-hard freedom fighters, motivated, self-assured and confident of victory against the occupation forces. Time is on their side. Their strategy for the battle of Marjeh therefore can be easily envisaged: They would rather hold Marjeh lightly, with a maximum of 2-3000 die-hard fighters, who would fight to the last man, killing as many of coalition forces, as possible. The use of strong and dispersed defenses, reinforced by IEDs ‘Omar Bombs’ and booby traps, would cause attrition on the attacking troops. Under-ground defensive net-work, on the pattern of Hezbollah’s defenses against Israelis in the 2006 war, would add to the strength of the resistance.

The bulk of the Taliban fighting force in Helmand area is estimated at 10-12000, which is likely to operate around the combat zone of Marjeh, to carryout interdiction of supply lines, logistics, support bases and may engage the coalition forces from several directions. While the battle of Marjeh rages, which will be long and bloody, the Taliban operating in other provinces, under their control will intensify their activities against the occupation forces, causing dispersion and greater attrition. The story of total defeat of the British Army of 1898, will not be repeated because, the air power of the coalition forces will save the day. A stalemate will occur. The result of this battle as well as the war in Afghanistan is the real contest between two opposing will. The coalition forces are demoralized and defeated, fighting a war which has no ideal and no moral justification. Whereas the Taliban are fighting for the freedom of their homeland, with faith in themselves and belief in the Divine Intervention, which has helped them defeat the mightiest of the mighty, during the last thirty years. In fact, the Asymmetric Warfare, waged by the Shadow Army of Taliban has determined the contours of the emerging global order, by putting limits to the expanding menace of global hegemony, primacy and pre-eminence. Maulana Jalaluddin Roomi’s prediction indeed has come true: “The Giants come forward from Afghanistan and influence the world.” Read more of this post

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