Afghanistan: Playing To The Base


June 13, 2007: The Taliban continue to take a beating on the battlefield. Using the same old tactics, with groups of 30-50 gunmen roaming around in trucks, or going cross country on foot, to intimidate villages, the Taliban are constantly being caught and captured or killed. Their losses are several hundred a week, and interrogations of the captured indicate that morale is low. The Taliban is maintaining discipline by threatening retaliation against family for anyone who deserts or betrays the cause.

June 12, 2007: Seven Afghan police were killed when they accidentally fired on U.S. troops at night, and the Americans returned fire.

June 11, 2007: The U.S. says it has found Iranian made, armor piercing (shape charged) roadside bombs, like those used in Iraq, in Afghanistan. Iran is believed to be supporting Afghan terrorist groups, ones that are willing to carry out attacks against American and NATO troops. Iran does not want the Taliban back in control of Afghanistan, because the Taliban leadership comes from Pushtun tribes that have historically been hostile to Shia Moslems, like those that are the majority in Iran.

June 10, 2007: The former head of publicity for the Taliban has defected to the government. Several senior Taliban officials have switched sides in the past year, and several others have been killed. The government maintains communications with most of the Taliban leadership. In traditional Afghan fashion, there are always offers to switch sides. It is not seen as dishonorable to do so, but smart. However, your former buddies also have the right to denounce you. In this case, the Taliban admitted their PR chief has split, but that the guy had turned insane, and it was good riddance. The Taliban are being beaten, but the drug gangs are getting stronger, and tribalism and regional warlords are still a problem. "Peace" in Afghanistan is a relative term, and it will not be quiet in the Western sense for decades, if not generations.

June 9, 2007: Italy denied that its Special Forces were engaged in combat. Leftists in Europe have joined forces with Islamic conservatives, to oppose American economic and military imperialism. Thus the powerful coalition of leftist politicians in the Italian government doesn't want to anger their supporters by allowing Italian troops in Afghanistan to fight Islamic conservative Taliban. At the same time, as a member of NATO, Italy is obliged to help out, or at least appear to be helping out, in the war on terror. However, Italy is also quick to arrest Islamic radicals in Italy, who are caught planning terrorist acts. Politics is strange, and politics in Europe, or Afghanistan, is no exception. Italian Special Forces have been fighting the Taliban, and have to work harder at keeping it secret, as some commandos from Moslem nations have done.

June 8, 2007: The Afghan Attorney General said he was beaten and shot at by men working for a former Interior Minister he was investigating for corruption. This was actually a kidnapping attempt, which the attorney general and his bodyguards fought off. Going after corrupt officials in Afghanistan is difficult because many Afghans believe it is their right to steal whatever they can, once they have a government job. In Afghan culture, going out and obtaining "loot" is considered a good thing, especially when you share the loot with family and friends. But looting the public treasury is no way to run a government, and many senior Afghan officials recognize this, although not all of them practice it.

Police discovered a large arms cache outside the capital. Someone tipped them off.

June 7, 2007: The government arranged to have four kidnapped medical aid workers released by the Taliban, in exchange for the body of Taliban military leader Dadullah. The Taliban earlier killed a fifth hostage, because the government refused to release imprisoned Taliban in exchange for the aid workers.

June 6, 2007: For the second time in a week, Taliban gunmen killed a female journalist. The Taliban belief that women should stay at home, and not be educated, is very important to many of pro-Taliban tribesmen out in the countryside. Girls schools are still being attacked, and staff and students killed. These tactics backfire with most Afghans. But these spectacular acts against women plays well to the Taliban base.




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