Afghanistan: September 21, 2001

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The Taliban said the ruling by the Afghan clerics, that Osama Bin Laden must leave Afghanistan, is not binding on the Taliban. This means that American troops will probably enter Afghanistan. The campaign is expected to rely on Special Forces teams and some Army rangers entering the country, backed by high flying aircraft carrying guided bombs. In this case, the troops on the ground would guide the bombs with laser designators and GPS equipment. The GPS equipment also makes it possible to call in cruise missile attacks. But the main weapon is the offer of food and medical aid in return for free passage and information about Bin Laden. While Afghanistan is the size of Texas, many parts of the country are not hospitable to the Taliban or Bin Laden. The war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance is largely an ethnic struggle (the Northern Alliance are non-Pushtun and the Pushtuns are only 40 percent of the population.) There will be no ground operations until U.S. troops are allowed into Pakistan, but the troops will offer bullets or bread as they proceed. The five million dollar rewards for Bin Laden may have some green cards added to make the offer more attractive. Afghans have been at war for over twenty years, losing about ten percent of the population in the process. American troops will not be invading the nation of Afghanistan, but rather a region called Afghanistan that contains hundreds of tribes and clans divided by ethnic and religious differences. The groups often don't like each other very much. The Special Forces hopes to use these differences and animosities to get through the countryside and find Bin Laden. Meanwhile, another million Afghans have fled their homes and headed for the Iranian and Pakistani borders. Iran and Pakistan are not allowing these refugees to cross their borders. If these refugees wanted to fight and defend Bin Laden, they would have stayed. The Northern Alliance has launched a new offensive, claiming to have seized a considerable amount of territory.

 

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