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Mullah Mohammed Rasool, the newly-elected leader of a breakaway faction of the Taliban, speaks during a gathering, Farah province, Afghanistan, Nov. 3, 2015 (AP photo).

Taliban Fracture Opens Window of Opportunity for Afghanistan

Friday, Nov. 13, 2015

Often counterinsurgency is less about a government forcefully imposing its will on insurgents than it is about seizing fleeting opportunities. Timing matters greatly: Doing the right thing at the wrong time usually has little effect; the same action taken when circumstances are more favorable can pay off.  

The first phase of the Iraq insurgency is a perfect example. What is called the American “surge” only worked because it coincided with several other developments that opened a window of opportunity for success. These included the fact that many Sunni Arabs had become disillusioned with the insurgency; that Iran and its Iraqi proxies had decided to lower their involvement in violence; that U.S. and Iraqi security forces had attained proficiency at counterinsurgency and manhunts; and that the violence had already resulted in the segregation of Iraq’s sectarian communities. The surge simply exploited the opportunity that emerged from this convergence of factors. ...

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