Afghanistan: August 5, 2003


The provincial warlords who use their tribal connections, or thousands of gunmen, to maintain their power, are in a stand-off with the central government over the collection of taxes. While some warlords get a lot of money from drug gangs and smuggling, the central government wants to get the bulk of the customs taxes collected at the border. Currently, it's all talk, with intense negotiations going on. But behind the government negotiators are American warplanes carrying smart bombs. These are considered formidable weapons, as you cannot fight back. President Karzai doesn't want to go to war over the taxes, but he cannot afford not to get more money, and cut down the power of the provincial warlords. So far, the warlords are backing down. But it's unknown how far back they will go.


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