THE FIRST FRUITS OF THE US WITHDRAWAL from the Afghan countryside and into the cities has come to pass as insurgents have taken control of the province of Nuristan on the Pakistani border. This effectively surrenders access to key supply lines through the Hindu Kush. It's also something of a stab in the back to Pakistan, which is waging an offensive right across the border. Asia Times Online spoke to a militant close to the insurgent leader in the region, Qari Ziaur Rahman:
"As the militant who spoke to Asia Times Online said, there is now the opportunity to open a new front, with Rahman's forces on the Afghan side and those of Moulvi Faqir Mohammad on the Bajaur and Mohmand side."
This is a major setback for the Americans and could be a serious blow to Pakistani efforts against the Taliban in Waziristan.
In an additional symbolic blow to US control in Afghanistan, militants seized a UN guesthouse in the heart of Kabul, which was seen as a safe haven from the insurgency. After eight years of war and occupation, it may be that a tipping point has been reached.