Afghanistan: October 22, 2001


The US says operations in Afghanistan will proceed through the Moslem Holy Month of Ramadan (which begins on November 19) and that US troops have been told to kill bin Laden if he is found and resists arrest.

For the second time, US warplanes bombed Taliban positions north of Kabul. Not on the front line facing Northern Alliance forces, but near a pass guarding one of the two roads leading to Kabul. Most of the daily bombing is against military targets, particularly fuel and ammunition storage areas. The Taliban are trying to hide their remaining fuel and ammo, so it must be unnerving for them to realize how much American recon aircraft and satellites can see and how quickly the bombs arrive after fuel or ammo is moved. There's a certain urgency to bomb the fuel and ammo before the Taliban realize that storing the stuff in mosque's and residential areas will make it politically more difficult for us to hit. The combination of relentless bombing and the threat of infantry attacks by rangers or commandoes air raids are meant to keep the Taliban and bin Laden people off balance and more prone to make mistakes. 

The diplomatic campaign goes on, with Pushtun leaders in the south being offered food and other aid if they will protect the stuff as it comes into the country. This would force Afghans to deal with any Taliban attempts to stop the aid shipments. Aid organizations have long used this method to protect shipments, hiring commercial truckers to move the goods and assurances from recipient groups that the convoys would not be attacked. No aid has moved since the bombing began and Taliban troops have been stealing aid and aid organization vehicles inside Afghanistan. Eventually, the millions of dollars in rewards for bin Laden and his lieutenants may temps Pushtun tribes to go for the gold. 

Russian president Putin has come out openly in support of the Northern Alliance. This angers the Pakistanis, who see the Russians, long time allies of India, as working against. Pakistan is allied with China. But both Russia and China have signed on to the War on Terrorism, so there is an opportunity to make a deal with Pakistan to allow the formation of a coalition government in Afghanistan that includes the Northern Alliance and the Pushtuns. 

The Taliban have begin dispersing their remaining weapons by distributing them to areas where they feel they still have popular support. The weapons include small arms and anti-aircraft guns.

The battle for Afghanistan extends to the United States in ways most people don't realize. One reason the deposed king of Afghanistan has so quickly become a factor because of a U.S. based PR effort (orchestrated by the Jefferson Group, a Washington based lobbying firm.) This was set in motion by a politically connected millionaire (Joseph J. Ritchie, a security advisor to Ronald Reagan) who grew up in Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance publicist is the sister (Otilie English ) of a Republican Congressman (Phil English ) from Pennsylvania. The Taliban and bin Laden handle their own PR.


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