June 29th, 2010
02:28 PM ET

Success in Afghanistan? Not by 2011

Michael Semple
Special to CNN
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/OPINION/06/28/semple.afghanistan.2011/tzleft.semple.agrawe.jpg caption="Michael Semple says new crop of Afghan Taliban made bold by guns, jihad authority" width=300 height=169]

The day of the Gen. McChrystal mea culpa last week, an Afghan friend of mine, whom we can call Osman, drove from Kandahar city to his native village. A group of Taliban stopped the car and demanded to search Osman and his companions.

This search has become a fact of life since the movement re-established its control over villages in Panjwai, a district in Kandahar province. The head of the armed group was the 20-year-old son of Osman's tenant farmer. Not far below a superficial politeness, the young Talib fighter deliberately humiliated someone who, according to Kandahari norms, was his senior.

New-generation fighters like the tenant tend to be from the poorer families in their tribes, have little education, have no property and have never held a paying job. The Kalashnikov and motorcycle that come with being a Taliban commander and the moral authority of claiming to be waging a jihad have empowered these tribal outsiders. Ironically, a decade ago, Osman was a senior leader in the original Taliban movement and commanded hundreds of such young men.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Opinion
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