Afghanistan: September 25, 2003


The Taliban have apparently made it a major goal to prevent the rebuilding of the Kabul-Kandahar highway. The 382 kilometer road is a major trade link within the country, and also a key tool for keeping the peace. When the road is repaired, it will only take four hours for trucks, or troops, to go from city to city. After two decades of neglect, it took two days to follow the roads route. The Taliban cannot muster sufficient force to make major attacks on the construction crews. But the Taliban do sneak up at night and snipe and fire RPGs at the construction camps. To deal with this, the government has formed a special thousand man police unit to guard the construction crews. These police get triple ($150 a month) the usual pay for police. As a result, the repair work has gone ahead over the Summer. Even the Taliban recognized the value of the highway, and had made some repairs on 40 kilometers of road south of Kabul.

The Taliban have been more successful in their terror campaign against foreign aid groups. The air workers, both foreigners and Afghans hired to help, can be ambushed out side the towns and cities. The aid groups are demanding that NATO supply more security and this has caused NATO to seriously consider expanding it's peacekeeping force outside Kabul. The experience in Kabul has shown that foreign troops can successfully perform peacekeeping in Afghanistan. Moreover, the Taliban have such a bad reputation in Europe that it is seen as something of a public service to suppress them. 



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