Afghanistan: May 20, 2002


The recent battles between allied and Afghan troops in southeastern Afghanistan has, in typical Afghan fashion, gotten murkier. Local Afghans insist that the foreign troops interfered in a battle between two tribes. The Australians point out that, not only were they fired on with heavy machine-gun and mortars, but when the Afghan positions were attacked and overrun, heavy machine-gun ammunition and rockets were found. Then again, when the Afghans are fighting, they don't particularly care who they are fighting. Anyone not from their tribe or group becomes fair game once war fever takes hold. 

So far this year, some 800,000 of the three million Afghan refugees have returned from camps in Pakistan and Iran. The refugees praise America and the other foreign troops for driving out the Taliban and bringing peace. The refugees were promised foreign aid to rebuild Afghanistan, and given small amounts of money to go home. Pakistan and Iran are eager to get rid of the refugees, who have caused problems (crime, competition for scarce jobs) with the locals in the areas where the refugee camps were established.

The commander of the British Royal Marine Commandos is being replaced. Apparently the current commander is not cooperating fully with the American officers who run the show in Afghanistan. 


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