Afghanistan: Bribing Your Way To Victory

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October 2, 2013: In September security forces lost about 400 personnel but killed nearly 600 Islamic terrorists (most of them Taliban) and arrested about 300. The army and police have become more aggressive this year in following up civilian tips about terrorist activity. At the same time intelligence operations have been more successful as Afghan intel specialists gain more experience and get better equipment to work with. But the best source of good intel remains Afghans unhappy with the Taliban and other outlaws. Cell phones, which have become one of the most desired consumer products in the last decade, are frequently used to secretly (to avoid Taliban retribution) report terrorist activity to the police.

Military and police commanders are very much aware that a lot of this success is due to NATO air and intelligence support. The foreign intel troops are particularly useful because they maintain large databases of Taliban and other terrorists as well as constant UAV, satellite, and manned aircraft monitoring of Taliban communications and movements. NATO warplanes and smart bombs can quickly follow up on intel. The Afghan commanders want some of this to stay after most NATO troops are gone at the end of 2014. But the Afghan politicians, because of greed and pressure (bribes and threats) from the Taliban and drug gangs to send away all foreign troops, are not eager to make a deal with NATO or the United States. While some military commanders are willing to get on the drug gang payroll, many, apparently most, are not. Thus negotiations for a treaty to cover post-2014 foreign troops in Afghanistan is going very slowly.

A growing number of senior Taliban and pro-Taliban tribal leaders are speaking up about really making some kind of peace deal with the government. The effective performance of the Afghan police and soldiers this year may have played a part in all this. For years the Taliban encouraged its battered followers to hang on until the foreign troops left, then the country would belong to the Islamic radicals. But it is not working out that way and the effectiveness of the Afghan security forces has been demoralizing for the Taliban. Although a lot of police and soldiers have died, so have a lot more Taliban and other malefactors. While most Afghans are illiterate, most can do the simple math here and realize sticking with the Taliban may not be a good long-range plan.

October 1, 2013: In the south (Helmand province) police spotted, seized, and disarmed two motorcycles rigged with explosives. These were apparently to be used for an attack on a UN compound. Elsewhere in Helmand police raids seized three machine-guns, nine AK-47s, over five-hundreed rounds of ammo, seven GPS receivers, and four radios.  

Up north the parliament in neighboring Tajikistan agreed to extend its security treaty with Russia to 2042. This includes Russia continuing to station 4,000 troops there, mainly on the Tajik southern (Afghan) border to help keep out drugs and Islamic terrorists. This involves running three Russian bases in Tajikistan. Russia also continues to train Tajik military personnel (mainly officers) and supply weapons and ammo at low cost or for free. In Afghanistan the Taliban operate to provide security for heroin smuggling. The Central Asian route (to West Europe and North America) is long but for most of the way you can bribe your way past border security. The Taliban are much more unpopular in northern Afghanistan and are often informed on, or even attacked, by hostile tribesmen. With Russian help the Tajiks have made their border guards more resistant to Taliban bribes and more likely to prevent smuggling. This can be seen by the numerous seizures of drugs and gun battles with the heavily armed smugglers. A lot of drugs do get through, but for the Russians every ton that is stopped is helpful (drug addiction is a big problem in Russia).

September 30, 2013: In the west (Herat province) Taliban gunmen attacked a police checkpoint. Three policemen, four Taliban, and two civilians died. In the south (Helmand province) police seized a car used by the terrorists and found five explosive vests, five AK-47s, and nineteen grenades inside.

In the east (Ghazni province) a NATO smart bomb hit a Taliban hideout, killing ten terrorists. The Afghan army called in this strike and Afghan troops quickly reached the destroyed base and identified one of the dead as a wanted Taliban leader. Weapons, documents, and other equipment were also found.

September 29, 2013: In the northeast (Badakhshan province) some Taliban entered a remote district capital and seized the government compound. The 312 districts in Afghanistan are subdivisions of the 34 provinces and many, like this one, have few police or government employees. In this case the police withdrew from the compound to avoid civilian casualties. Reinforcements were called in to chase the Taliban out. Elsewhere in the province police raids killed 47 Taliban at the loss of 18 policemen over the weekend. In this part of the country the Taliban are there to protect a large drug smuggling operation. This is what most Taliban activity is all about. In the south (Helmand province) a suicide bomber tried to get into an army base but was recognized (as a suicide bomber) at the gate. The explosives went off at the gate killing the bomber, a policeman, and two civilians. Three other civilians were wounded.

September 27, 2013: In Wardak province (west of the capital) a NATO smart bomb killed seven Taliban. In the east (Kunar province) Afghan police caught up and killed a local Taliban leader and captured another Taliban.

September 26, 2013: In the east (Paktia province) a Taliban dressed in a police uniform killed a NATO soldier. The attacker was killed. So far this year thirteen NATO personnel have been killed in such attacks. Over the last two years NATO has modified its security measures to avoid such attacks. Thus, last year there were sixty-two NATO personnel killed that way compared to thirty-five in 2011. At the current rate there will be seventeen-nineteen NATO deaths from people in Afghan police or military uniforms this year.

September 24, 2013: In the Pakistani tribal territories (Waziristan) six mortar shells fired from Afghanistan killed two and wounded four. Pakistan complained to Afghanistan about this but the fact of the matter is that there is growing fire going both ways across the border.

September 22, 2013: In the south (Kandahar province) the Taliban attacked a fortified border post using mortars and machine-gun, leaving eleven border guards dead.

September 18, 2013: In the northeast (Badakhshan province) Taliban ambushed a police convoy and killed eighteen policemen. The police were returning from a successful raid. 

 

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