September 5, 2014:
Both candidates in the presidential runoff election are awaiting the election recount, which is not expected to be done until the 10
. Incumbent president Karzai keeps saying he will go but peaceful transfers of power are rare in Afghanistan and there is a lot anxiety over the succession. The recount did not even get started officially until July 17
and was then delayed several more times by disagreements. In mid-June both candidates agreed to an American arranged full vote recount and agreed to abide by the result of the recount, which is being overseen by foreign observers. The result of the June 14 runoff has been in doubt because of fraud allegations. The two candidates are Abdullah Abdullah (a long time Karzai rival and widely believed to have lost the 2009 vote because of fraud) who had 45 percent of the votes in the first (April) election and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (a former finance minister and World Bank official) who had 31.5 percent. Abdullah Abdullah is part Tajik and backed the Northern Alliance against the Taliban during the 1990s. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is a Pushtun from a powerful tribe. He was attending college in the U.S. when the civil wars and subsequent Russian invasion occurred in the late 1970s. He was in exile until 2001. His family suffered many losses during this period, both because of the Russians and the civil wars. To Puhstuns Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is the more acceptable candidate because he is all Pushtun and the Pushtuns have traditionally been the kings or leaders of Afghanistan, even though they are a minority (although the largest one at 40 percent of the population). Ahmadzai and many of his supporters insist that a lot more Pushtuns turned out to vote in the runoff in order to keep a Pushtun in the top job. On the other hand Abdullah Abdullah was the victim of Pushtun voting fraud in 2009 when president Karzai was running for reelection and sees it as happening again. This is a major political crises and its outcome will be in doubt for weeks until the recount is complete. There were a lot of foreign observers who reported that there was some fraud but not a lot more than the first election in April. There were nearly 600 formal complaints of fraud and there was an effort by Pushtun leaders to get out more votes for Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.
It’s not just having a new president, but also whether he will make the deals necessary to keep some NATO troops in the country after this year, that has most Afghans concerned. Without those troops, billions in foreign aid is at risk, including the $4.1 billion a year NATO has agreed to provide for support of the 230,000 men in the army and police. Without these security forces, which Afghanistan cannot afford on its own, the warlords and drug gangs will take over and the central government will become extinct, or confined to a small area around Kabul. Without the central government the economy will shrink because foreign investment will stay away, foreign aid will shrink and many Afghan businessmen and entrepreneurs will flee. Many already have for Afghanistan has long been the poorest area in Eurasia because so many Afghans tolerated chaos and resisted modern concepts of government. It’s all about the culture and the prevailing one in Afghanistan is brutal, corrupt and tolerant of anarchy and an attitude that only the strong survive and prosper. The drug trade has provided a path to riches, or at least a good (by local standards) living for ten percent of the population. The rest will depend on tribal warlords for security and leadership. It has been this way for thousands of years, except for those periods when nearby empires (usually Iranian or Indian) moved in to rule (by force) areas needed to sustain the valuable trade routes between China, India and the West (Middle East and Europe). Those trade routes were put out of business centuries ago by the appearance of cheaper and more efficient European ship designs that moved the good by sea.
There are actually dozens of separate wars going with each of the 34 provinces a different situation based on the mix of criminal gangs, warlords, extent of drug production or smuggling and the effectiveness of the local army and police as well as provincial and tribal leaders. The main problem is an ancient one and that is the tendency of these warlords (whether they be gang leaders, army or police commanders or heads of tribal militias) looking after their own interests at the expense of cooperation and mutual benefit. This, and the accompanying corruption, are the main flaws in the local culture. As a result more Afghans with the means (cash and connections) are getting out. That costs several thousand dollars per person, and more the farther away you want to go. Locations in the West are the most expensive. Many Afghans understand that migrating means leaving a lot of bad customs behind and finding a better life.
The security forces report a lot of damage done to the Taliban in the last few months, with several thousand Islamic terrorists killed over the last few months in the areas of most intense activity. This is largely in the south where most of the heroin is produced and the east because Haqqani and foreign terrorists have sanctuary in Pakistan for attacks into Afghanistan. Meanwhile in western Afghanistan local (Herat province) police blame Iran for an increase in violence and accuse Iran of funding the local Taliban and providing sanctuary for them in Iran.
The Islamic terrorists and Taliban have been a lot more active this year, seeking to establish a presence in territory they will seek to dominate after the foreign troops leave at the end of the year. The forces of darkness (criminals, drug gangs, and Taliban) all want to prevent a Status Of Forces agreement that will keep foreign troops and especially foreign air power in the country. The smart bombs and missiles not only kill a lot of bad guys but prevent them from undertaking large scale operations (without suffering large scale casualties). Many Afghans, including a lot of warlords with political jobs and government employees in general as well as those with legal businesses, want foreign troops to stay. In other words, a majority of Afghans want more security, not more freedom for gangsters, drug lords and Islamic terrorists to run wild. Unfortunately the bad guys know they have to fight for their freedom to rampage and are doing just that right now. They are also calling on all the politicians they have bribed for years to do what they can to stop the Status Of Forces agreement.
The United States criticized Pakistan for continuing to harbor Islamic terrorist groups despite the continuing Pakistani offensive in North Waziristan. This offensive has killed nearly a thousand Islamic terrorists in the past twelve weeks and sent several thousand more fleeing. These men are either seeking a new sanctuary or a new line of work. Many are wounded and mainly want medical care and time to recover.
The U.S. appreciates that the current
North Waziristan operation has also gone after the
Haqqani Network. American sources (satellite photos and the like) showed that some serious damage was done to Haqqani and that most Haqqani personnel have fled North Waziristan and all known (to the Americans) Haqqani bases there have been bombed or captured by the Pakistanis. The U.S. feared that Pakistan was just going after Islamic terrorists who attack Pakistan and not groups like the Haqqani Network that have long been seen as tools of the Pakistani military (and its military branch the ISI) and done much damage in Afghanistan. The U.S. also noted that the ISI was largely and conspicuously absent from
North Waziristan operation. Apparently even the Pakistani Army doesn’t trust the ISI. But then the ISI has long been known to harbor many officers who openly support Islamic terrorist attacks against Pakistani politicians and military leaders who have been accused of being “un-Islamic.” Meanwhile Islamic terrorist sanctuaries in the southwest (Quetta) and the north (Pakistani Kashmir) continue to be untouched by Pakistani security forces and are free to support attacks in Afghanistan (from the southwest) and Indian Kashmir (the north).
It has become public that Afghanistan senior police and army commanders are increasingly ordering their men not to take prisoners. This is a desperate move made because the corruption in Afghanistan, especially in the courts and prisons, makes it too easy for a captured Islamic terrorist or drug gang member to get free with a few well-placed bribes. This has led to a growing number of well known (at least in the police and the army) Taliban killers getting captured, bribing their way free and going on to kill more cops and soldiers. A current example of this can be seen in the north (Kunduz province) where local Islamic terrorist leader Qari Belali, who has been active since the 1990s and has managed to bribe his way out jail twice in the last decade. The “no-prisoners” policy was as much to maintain morale in the security forces as it was to get around the corrupt judicial system. The police and army generals who spoke of this new policy openly later shut up as word got to the corrupt politicians who were getting rich on all these bribes. But apparently the policy is being widely applied unofficially. For the police and soldiers, it’s a matter of life and death. The Taliban have responded with both more generous bribes to police and army generals to allow prisoners to be taken, and threats to go after those commanders who do not crack down on the “no-prisoners” policy.
September 4, 2014: In the east (Ghazni province) the Taliban attacked an army intelligence compound. The three hour battle left all 21 of the attackers and ten soldiers, police and civilians dead. There were also over 150 wounded, most of them civilians in the area hit by the bomb blasts and stray bullets. The Taliban used two car bombs to start then sent in gunmen. Like most attacks of this sort, it failed.
September 3, 2014: An Afghan army officer, part of the Afghan delegation to a NATO meeting in Britain, applied for asylum shortly after arriving. This sort of behavior by Afghan officials sent overseas on government business is not unusual.
September 1, 2014: In the east (Kunar province) three Taliban were killed by an American UAV missile attack. While there have been fewer of these attacks in Pakistan in the last year there has been a big increase in such missile strikes and UAV surveillance in Afghanistan. In the last week these attacks have killed at least 17 Islamic terrorists, mostly in and around Kunar. This is where a lot of the Islamic terrorists, fleeing the Pakistani offensive in North Waziristan, are fleeing to.
August 31, 2014: In the south (Helmand province) over fifty Taliban were involved in attacks on several checkpoints. All the attacks were repulsed. Such attacks are common in this area, which has long been the center of the drug trade. Soldiers and police either fortify and carefully guard these checkpoints or get killed.
August 25, 2014:
In eastern Afghanistan (Kunar) 61 rockets were fired from Pakistan in the last two days and six civilians were wounded. On August 6th 135 rockets were fired but there were no casualties. A similar attack in January killed four children and there have been several other such attacks this year, the most recent one in June. In the last year Pakistani troops have fired over 5,000 rockers into Afghanistan, forcing over 10,000 civilians to flee their homes, some for good. The Afghan government complains to Pakistan but the attacks keep happening. That is because Pakistan accuses Afghanistan of doing nothing about the anti-Pakistan Islamic terrorists who take shelter in Afghanistan and regularly cross the border to carry out attacks in Pakistan.
August 24, 2014: The government released a list of 168 terror groups based in Pakistan that regularly make attacks in Afghanistan. Some of these groups are currently under attack in North Waziristan but most are still enjoying sanctuary in Pakistan and freedom from police interference. Pakistan denies that any such sanctuary exists but Afghanistan and India have long lists of attacks, victims and captured Islamic terrorists who spoke freely of their sanctuary and other support from the Pakistani government.
August 23, 2014: In the east (Kunar province) six members of the Pakistani Taliban were killed by an American UAV missile attack.
August 22, 2014:
In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) over 60 Taliban sought to cross the border but were confronted by Pakistani troops and a fire fight broke out. The Taliban retreated back into Afghanistan. One Pakistani soldier died and it was unclear what casualties the Taliban suffered.
August 15, 2014:
In eastern Afghanistan (Kunar) 23 rockets were fired from Pakistan. There were no casualties.
August 11, 2014: The UAE (United Arab Emirates) warned its citizens to stay away from Afghanistan (as well as Somalia and South Sudan) due to security concerns. Earlier the government had warned its citizens to stay away from Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Nigeria, Ukraine, Thailand, Iraq and Libya for the same reasons.
Civilians in eastern Afghanistan complained about shelling from across the border in Pakistan.
August 10, 2014: The government ordered the security forces to oppose all incursions by Pakistani soldiers or police. This was in response to Pakistani complaints that Pakistani Islamic terrorists were hiding out in Afghanistan and then making attacks in Pakistan and that Afghanistan was responsible for this. Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of ignoring complaints about Pakistani rocket, artillery, warplane and ground forces into Afghanistan.