Afghanistan: Taliban Losing, Drug Gangs Winning
September 5, 2006: The Taliban Summer offensive is nearly over, as the cold weather begins showing up. Nearly 2,000 have died in the last eight months from the Taliban violence. Most of the dead have been Taliban, most of them Afghans, but about a third Pakistanis and about five percent of them other foreigners. Most of the civilian victims were targeted by the Taliban. These included teachers and other government officials murdered by the Taliban, as part of a terror campaign to gain control over tribes in the south. This has largely backfired, as the Taliban was not strong enough to maintain constant pressure on the tribes. Apparently, the high Taliban death toll is the result of keeping large groups of gunmen in action, as this was the only way to back up the smaller terror squads, in the face of tribal attempts to resist or retaliate. But army and coalition forces would constantly catch the large Taliban groups, and smash them with smart bombs and superior firepower.
September 4, 2006: A suicide car bombing in Kabul hit a NATO convoy, killing one NATO soldier and four civilians. In the south, an American A-10 aircraft, fired on Canadian troops by mistake, killing one of the Canadians, and wounding five others. This is the second time U.S. aircraft have mistakenly attacked Canadian troops in Afghanistan during the last five years. During that time, about 15 percent of the 33 Canadian dead in Afghanistan have been caused by American aircraft.
September 3, 2006: Over the weekend, NATO troops near Kandahar (in the west), killed over 200 Taliban, while losing four of their own troops. Nearly a hundred Taliban were captured. This was part of a NATO operation to cripple Taliban forces in the Kandahar area. It appears to have succeeded, as interrogations of captured Taliban showed that this was a major enemy force in the area, and contained many key leaders.
September 2, 2006: Pakistan has been signing truces with rebellious Pushtun tribes on its side of the border, and this has led to a noticeable increase in the number Pakistanis captured or killed fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The additional number of Pakistanis in Afghanistan is not great, perhaps only a few hundred, but these guys have guns and murderous intent, and have hurt Afghans and foreign troops.
September 1, 2006: This years poppy crop (which is used to produce opium and heroin) is 40-50 percent greater than last years, and in excess of current world consumption of heroin. Afghanistan currently supplies about 90 percent of the world supply of heroin, and the drug trade comprises about half the economic activity in the country. This is a greater problem than the Taliban rebels, but the mass media tends to concentrate on the Taliban, because of its connection to the war on terror.
August 31, 2006: The government has announced another anti-corruption campaign. No one expects much to come of it. A Dutch F-16 crashed, because of equipment failure, killing the pilot.
August 29, 2006: Another 18 Taliban were killed when a group of sixty were found. Three of them were captured, the rest dispersed and fled. Denmark is sending some of its commandos to Afghanistan, to assist the 122 Danish troops assigned to the NATO force in southern Afghanistan.