Afghanistan: Time of Troubles for Taliban Recruiters

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February3, 2007: Based on experience gained last year, NATO forces are going to try and intercept Taliban forces as they cross over from Pakistan. This is a tactic that has been practiced with some success over the last two months. NATO has a growing network of air recon and informers on the ground, so it's possible to detect and locate more of the Taliban groups trying to cross the border.

February 2, 2007: A truce the Taliban, arranged by British commanders last year, fell apart as the Taliban faction entered the town of Musa Qala, in Helmand province, and drove out the tribal elders who had agreed to the truce. In this particular area, the tribal factions were split between pro, and anti, Taliban. The pro-Taliban crew have apparently decided that a truce is of no use. Afghan troops will arrive shortly to drive out the pro-Taliban tribesmen.

February 1, 2007: Britain is sending another battalion of infantry to Afghanistan, bringing the UK force to a strength of 5,800. The legislature has passed a law granting everyone amnesty for whatever evil acts they committed during the last 25 years of violence. This lifts the threat of war crimes trials from many Afghans, but leaves many others still wanting revenge.

January 31, 2007:For the second time this year, Taliban raiders burned down a school in southeast Afghanistan.

January 30, 2007:A Taliban hideout near Kandahar (Helmand province) was bombed and 30 Taliban were killed, and another dozen wounded. Some of the wounded were captured by Afghan troops who went in after the bombing.

January 28, 2007:In Pakistan, the Taliban continue to have trouble recruiting new fighters to replace the 4,000 or so lost last year. While many teenage boys are eager to fight, their parents are more practical. Raising a son for over fifteen years is expensive, and then sending him off on a suicide mission to Afghanistan is bad business. If there were good prospects of the kid coming back, that would be another matter. The Taliban are paying well for those who will fight, and there's always the prospect of loot. Pushtun tribal tradition praises a man who can go to war and return with loot. But most of the thousands of young men who went to Pakistan last year, didn't come back at all. The Taliban says that most of them are in paradise, but the parents are depressed, and other parents are wary.

January 27, 2007:NATO troops are discovering, up close and personal, how corruption works in Afghanistan. Basically, anyone in a position of power (tribal elder, village chief, police commander, provincial official) believes they have the right to steal as much as they can get away with. The thief is doing it for himself and his family, and his family and clan will back him if he gets into trouble (usually from someone who's trying to steal the same stuff.) Most Afghans cannot understand the quaint Western custom of not stealing. Afghans understand this "honest government" stuff works in the West because most people in the West are rich, and because that's just the way things are in those exotic foreign lands. But here in Afghanistan, you take what you can, whenever you have the opportunity. There are fair minded (by Western standards) Afghans, who do not steal (or at least not as much as most). But these guys are at a disadvantage, because if you steal, you have money you can give to your friends, to ensure their loyalty. Now all of this is nothing new. You can go back through several generations of diplomatic and travelers accounts of Afghanistan and find the same discussions of corruption. That said, you learn to work with the thieves. If all you have is lemons, then make lemonade.

 

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