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