January 16, 2008:
Law and order in
southern Afghanistan is severely compromised by corruption. On the government
side, money meant to buy equipment, or even pay the police officers, is stolen
by senior officials. On the bad-guy side, bribes are offered to police to
ignore drug operations, or even to leave armed Taliban alone (while they
terrorize villagers into supporting the Taliban operations.) U.S. and NATO
advisors with the police report this to their superiors, who then try and
pressure the Afghan government to clean up the corruption. That is difficult,
as it is traditional. Senior officials expect to be able to steal once, as it
is seen as an essential perk of the job.
January 14, 2008: A Taliban gunman and two
suicide bombers attacked a Kabul hotel popular with foreigners. At least eight
were killed. Quick police work led to the arrest of several of the men involved
in the attack. The Taliban have threatened to attack places where foreigners
hang out. The Taliban has largely bought into the al Qaeda terror tactics. While
some Taliban leaders pointed out that these tactics had failed, and backfired, in Iraq, Algeria, Egypt and elsewhere in the
Islamic world, these misgivings were ignored. The Taliban has not got much
choice. The partnership with the drug gangs is having unwanted side effects.
The drug crowd tend to have un-Islamic habits (porn, booze, drugs and sex). Young,
impressionable Taliban fighters are being corrupted. Not a problem with al
Qaeda, which prefers to recruit young Taliban to be suicide bombers. Most young
Afghan tribesmen would rather run with the druggie crowd.
January 12, 2008: Police have found and
identified Iranian made anti-vehicle mines. Iran denies it is sending weapons
to the Taliban, and implies that corrupt Iranian officials are selling the
munitions to smugglers, who are getting the stuff to the Taliban.
January 11, 2008: Just across the border in Pakistan, one of the
major Pushtun tribes, the Wazir, have declared war on al Qaeda, and have
gathered a militia of several hundred armed men, to expel al Qaeda members
living in that part of Waziristan. Several thousand al Qaeda fled Afghanistan for
Pakistan in late 2001 and early 2002. Most settled down in Pushtun controlled
areas just across the border, and married local women. But these foreigners
were never fully accepted, and increasingly got into disputes with their
in-laws over business practices and terrorist activity. Over the last few
years, the al Qaeda groups (the foreigners tended to organize gangs based on
ethnicity) began using violence against Pushtun tribal chiefs that opposed
them. This escalated to kidnapping and murder, and that's what turned the Wazir
against al Qaeda. At least ten percent of the al Qaeda in Pakistan are in Wazir
territory. Afghan border guards have been alerted to expect some of these al
Qaeda members to sneak back into Afghanistan.