Afghanistan: Situation Normal, All Blown Up


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November 27, 2005: The Taliban continue to make terror attacks, desperate to reverse the continued defection of tribal chiefs to the government. The "Taliban offensive" this year has largely failed to change their dire situation. While there are still some families and clans in the south that want the Taliban back in power, they are very much a minority. When a nearby tribe declares allegiance for the government, it means that tribe becomes a hostile neighbor for the pro-Taliban tribesmen. These tribal feuds are nothing new, and many pre-date the Taliban period. While Western media like to make a big deal about all the violence, it's all pretty normal in this part of the world.

November 26, 2005: The Afghan army is replacing its Russian equipment with NATO standard (U.S. or European) stuff. This will make it easier to work with the many NATO and American troops in the country.

November 25, 2005: In an attempt to stem growing cooperation by tribesmen, with police and American troops, the Taliban announced that they had seized and killed three men, that were accused of reporting Taliban activities to U.S. troops. Meanwhile, in southern Afghanistan, what appeared to be a suicide bomber blew up, apparently by accident, near a construction site. Lack of experienced bomb makers has caused a number of accidents like this.

November 23, 2005: A roadside bomb killed an American soldier and his Afghan translator. That makes 89 Americans killed in Afghanistan so far this year. That's the highest annual loss so far, but still about half the death rate as for American troops in Iraq. So far, since late 2001, 205 American troops have died in Afghanistan. There are about 20,000 American and 10,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan. There are some 70,000 Afghan army troops, and about the same number of national and local police. Afghanistan has about the same population as Iraq (some 25 million).

A UN survey indicates that, for the first time since 2001, opium (poppy) production has declined (by 2.5 to ten percent). However, 20 percent fewer acres are growing poppy plants, in response to a two year government campaign to discourage poppy cultivation. Drug gangs are responding by helping other farmers grow poppy plants.

November 22, 2005: The Taliban say they killed an Indian engineer they had kidnapped last week. This was done because the Taliban demand. that the Indian firm building a road in southern Afghanistan leave the country, was not met.


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