In Western Afghanistan, Iran is pouring millions of dollars a
year into Shia schools, mosques and social organizations. Naturally, the Shia
have been a large minority in this area for centuries. But during the Taliban
era of the late 1990s, the Shia were persecuted, tortured and killed. To make
matters worse, most of the Shia were Hazara, descendents of the Central Asian
troops the Mongols brought with them when the conquered the areas eight
centuries ago. Other Afghans continue to hate the Mongol "invaders."
Now, because of the Iranian aid, the Shia are better armed, and more
determined to resist any new Taliban persecution. The Taliban believe the Shia
are heretics, and in Islam, the punishment for heresy is death.
the south, NATO commandos are having success in finding out where Taliban
commanders are, and killing or capturing them. There are about three dozen
Taliban commanders in the south, and if enough of them can be taken out of
action, this years Taliban offensive will collapse.
25, 2007: There are daily incidents around Kandahar, as Taliban begin to
move people in from Pakistan, and try to establish base camps. The police and
army are running patrols in areas where the Taliban are trying to establish
freedom of movement. But the pro-Taliban tribes are not as pro-Taliban as they
were last year, and less enthusiastic about fighting the police and army
24, 2007: Sensing weakness, more warlords are publicly denouncing the
Taliban, and urging young men not to join up.
23, 2007: The NATO commander believes that the Taliban cannot survive
another defeat in 2007. That may be overly optimistic, given the tribal basis
of the Taliban, and their fight against "outsiders." While the
Taliban continue to make themselves more unpopular, they will always have some
diehard support up in the hills.
southeast Afghanistan, a Taliban suicide bomber set off his explosives outside
a NATO base. The bomber detonated his explosives when it was clear he was not
going to get into the base. Ten people were killed, most of them local
civilians. This sort of failure just makes civilians angrier, and more willing
to inform on Taliban activities.
22, 2007: The Taliban announced that, when they return to try and conquer
southern Afghanistan this spring, they will spend at least a million dollars in
building proper religious schools to replace the 200 secular schools they
destroyed last year. Burning or trashing those schools was very unpopular, and
the Taliban noted that many villagers would defend their schools from Taliban
attacks. The Taliban also said they had changed their minds about educating
girls, and would eventually have religious schools for girls. The Taliban
believe that a basically religious education is all you need. While the Taliban
love to use gadgets and modern technology, they don't seem to grasp how all
that stuff comes about.
21, 2007: In the last week, eleven Taliban suicide bombers were arrested
before they could carry out their attacks. Several suicide bomb teams were
uncovered, and their operations disrupted. The suicide bomb attacks have not
been skillfully carried out, and most of the casualties have been Afghan
civilians. As a result, there have been more tips from civilians.
20, 2007: While the U.S. believes that Afghanistan is turning into
another Colombia (where prosperous drug gangs ally with other rebel groups to
fight the government), an important difference is the tribal organization in
Afghanistan. Because of the tribal chiefs, there has been no use of aerial
spraying to destroy poppy crops. The chiefs oppose it, fearing side effects.
The government wants to try other methods (tearing up the crops) for one more
year and, if that continues to fail, use the spraying.