- The number of rebels is growing steadily and must now range in the tens of thousands.
- The insurgents show signs of improving their tactical skills.
- The Taliban in particular are also having some success in infiltrating the Afghan security forces, in particular the police, which is now in deep crisis in several Afghan provinces in the south and west of the country.
- In some northern provinces – most notably Kunduz – the insurgency is beginning to represent a serious threat. Indeed, clear signs of insurgent infiltration exist in almost all the northern provinces: only Samangan and Panjshir provinces appear to remain completely free of violent activities.
This is alarming stuff for everyone concerned, save maybe for the Finnish ISAF commander who believes the insurgency is in its death throes.
Still, Giustozzi says, the Taleban’s campaign is “not quite trouble-free”:
Afghanistan’s difficult economic situation – and the large pool of unemployed and disaffected young people that is one of its by-products – favours the Taliban less than might be expected (even though there are allegations of a large mercenary presence in the movement’s ranks). Although high unemployment may push some people towards joining the insurgency, the same could be said of the police or the national army.
Moreover, the Taliban might now be experiencing a crisis of growth. Their expansion has made internal communication, and central command-and-control, increasingly difficult. Moreover, the movement’s leadership is trying to turn it into a more structured and disciplined entity. This involves a range of measures: insisting that its commanders behave more moderately towards the civilian population, marginalising its more extremist component, establishing a civilian administration, and expanding its judiciary into more and more areas.