Afghanistan: January 6, 2004


Local factions continue to fight each other with bullets and bombs. This is a game of intimidation, with the weaker side eventually backing off and allowing the more powerful faction to do as they wish. This could mean control of local government (and a form of taxation which resembles an extortion racket), as well as control over local lifestyles (Taliban factions, for example, want the women covered up and no schools for girls.) US troops keep troops ready to fly off in helicopters on short notice to calm down situations where factions have started a local war. Normally, these factions will fire machine-guns, mortars and artillery at each other for days, killing a lot of local civilians in the process.

The Taliban continues its intimidation attacks in southern and eastern Afghanistan. A bomb went off in Kandahar, killing ten Afghans and destroying the offices of an aid organization. Attacks, with grenades and guns, on aid groups continues throughout the south and east. The Taliban want foreigners out and the old ways restored. The Taliban represent one (conservative Pushtuns) of the many attitudes in the nation. Historically, the goal of the central government has not been to change anyone's ideas, but to keep the different factions and tribes from starting little wars over the place to force others to change their customs. The Taliban made themselves unpopular by trying to impose conservative Pushtun customs on other tribes. But at the same time, the Taliban had earlier made themselves popular by threatening or killing those who continued to fight or pillage.  At the moment, the US forces and the Afghan army are doing what the Taliban once did; running down those fighters who refused to keep the peace. 


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