By Sanjay Suri
"LONDON - The Taliban have regained control over the southern half of Afghanistan and their front line is advancing daily, a group closely monitoring the Afghan situation said in a report this week.
The report on the reconstruction of Afghanistan marking the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US is based on extensive field research in the critical provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Herat and Nangarhar.
"The Taliban front line now cuts halfway through the country, encompassing all of the southern provinces," says a report by the Senlis Council, an international policy think-tank with offices in Kabul, London, Paris and Brussels.
"The subsequent rising levels of extreme poverty have created increasing support for the Taliban, who have responded to the needs of the local population," the report says.
The poppy-eradication program has been a disaster, he said. "It is a direct attack on the livelihood of the farmers, so there is a clear connection between the eradication and this humanitarian crisis. All this is being used by the Taliban to say ... 'When we were there we were maybe hard and cruel, but you could feed the family; now look what's going on.' They are more and more providing support [and] social services to the local population.""