Helmand province, a Taliban mini-state

JOHN MOORE/Getty Images News Embedded with Taliban fighters in the perennially troublesome Helmand province of southwest Afghanistan, Al Jazeera’s James Bays is reporting that insurgents have been so successful in thwarting British efforts to secure the region that they have set up a Taliban mini-state. Bays recounts a conversation with the Taliban’s district commander: ‘Out of 100 percent, ...

603804_070323_helmand_05.jpg
603804_070323_helmand_05.jpg

JOHN MOORE/Getty Images News

Embedded with Taliban fighters in the perennially troublesome Helmand province of southwest Afghanistan, Al Jazeera's James Bays is reporting that insurgents have been so successful in thwarting British efforts to secure the region that they have set up a Taliban mini-state. Bays recounts a conversation with the Taliban's district commander:

'Out of 100 percent, the British don't even control one percent of Helmand,' he said. He told me the Taliban is not just a military organisation - he said they have appointed a governor in Helmand  and it is now running medical clinics and madrassas, or religious schools."

JOHN MOORE/Getty Images News

Embedded with Taliban fighters in the perennially troublesome Helmand province of southwest Afghanistan, Al Jazeera’s James Bays is reporting that insurgents have been so successful in thwarting British efforts to secure the region that they have set up a Taliban mini-state. Bays recounts a conversation with the Taliban’s district commander:

‘Out of 100 percent, the British don’t even control one percent of Helmand,’ he said. He told me the Taliban is not just a military organisation – he said they have appointed a governor in Helmand  and it is now running medical clinics and madrassas, or religious schools.”

During his Taliban-led tour of Sangin, one of the province’s principal cities, Bays searched for signs of NATO-led activity:

There were Taliban fighters – with weapons – everywhere, and no sign of NATO or Afghan forces. We filmed from a car occupied by heavily armed Taliban fighters, yet the vehicle drove straight past the compound housing the British troops based in the town. The Taliban fighters claim the British are too scared to even leave their base. The sound of aircraft can be heard – but the fighters are not afraid – they dismissively call the planes ‘Bush’s kites.'”

Then again, news of the disastrous coalition efforts in Helmand—a province that, incidentally, continues to supply as much as one third of the world’s opium—is no shocker: The British aide-de-camp to the region’s commander quit in September, describing the effort as “a textbook case of how to screw up a counter-insurgency.”

The Afghan government is launching an ambitious, renewed drive to eradicate poppy growing, particularly in Helmand province. It could get ugly. 

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