AFGHANISTAN….There’s been a fair amount of coverage of the increasing violence in Afghanistan, but I’m surprised that this development hasn’t gotten more attention:

The Taliban has wrested control of most of Zabul province in southeastern Afghanistan ? for the first time recapturing a province since being ousted from power by the US military in November 2001 ? geopolitical analytical firm Stratfor reported.

….The advance also underscores the stalemate between the United States and its Afghan allies against the Taliban. It indicates that the alliance formed in early 2002 between the Taliban, al Qaeda and Hizb-i-Islami ? the party led by Afghan war lord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar ? is paying off for the militants, Stratfor said in a report.

It said Zabul is of strategic and military importance for a number of reasons. Taking Zabul cuts off US troops stationed to the south in Kandahar from the bulk of US troops located to the north toward Kabul, it said, and given that Helmand and Oruzgan provinces to the north of Zabul already are Taliban strongholds, the group can better try to isolate US and local provincial troops in Kandahar and eventually attempt to retake Kandahar as well.

Apparently the Taliban and al-Qaeda are now strong enough to retake an entire province, and it’s a province that’s strategically located on the main road between Kandahar and Kabul.

I wish I knew enough to have a better idea of what this means, but it sure looks as though we just don’t have enough troop strength in Afghanistan to hold onto the country. Since al-Qaeda really does have a strong presence both there and in Pakistan ? as opposed to Iraq, where they’ve never had any real strength ? this seems like seriously bad news.