Page last updated at 07:09 GMT, Friday, 25 July 2008 08:09 UK

Taleban 'winning propaganda war'

Taleban in Musa Qala (20 November 2007)
The report says the Taleban is using the full rage of media for propaganda

A leading international think-tank says the Afghan government and its foreign allies are in danger of losing the propaganda war with the Taleban.

The International Crisis Group says people have an exaggerated view of the Taleban's strength.

At the same time, it says, the Taleban are exploiting public anger at civilian casualties caused by foreign troops.

The group called on the government to do more to highlight Taleban atrocities and to address issues like corruption.

'Exploiting failures'

"Out of power and lacking control over territory, the Taleban has proved adept at projecting itself as stronger than it is in terms of numbers and resources," the International Crisis Group (ISG) says in a new report.

"Using the full range of media, it is successfully tapping into strains of Afghan nationalism and exploiting policy failures by the Kabul government and its international backers," the report says.

"The result is weakening public support for nation building, even though few actively support the Taleban."

The report advises the administration and its backers to become better at countering the Taleban propaganda if they are to defeat an insurgency "that is driving a dangerous wedge between them and the Afghan people".

The ICG says the government's strategy to win over public support has been unsuccessful.

The group argues that as the Taleban will not be beaten militarily, it is vital that their legitimacy be challenged and their ideas defeated.

To do that, the report says, the Afghan government and the international community must both highlight the Taleban's brutality and address the genuine grievances that the Taleban is so successfully exploiting.

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