Afghanistan: October 5, 2001

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The Northern Alliance has received some additional weapons from Russia, and money (and other assistance) from America, but is not waiting before making a big push on Taliban territory. The Taliban are distracted by the threatened American attack, as are the bin Laden troops. Many Afghans see that there might be a better future for them if they support, or at least don't interfere with, the US pursuit of bin Laden. If the Northern Alliance prevails, the Afghan drug problem will return. A deal was made with the Taliban to eliminate cultivation of poppies. This cut drug production some 90 percent from the 1999 high of 4,600 tons. Growing poppies is still allowed in Northern Alliance territory, but only 150 tons of drugs were produced. A major problem has been getting the drugs out of the country, there being few roads. This also makes it difficult to get food aid in before Winter arrives. The US is considering using parachute drops of food to the half million Afghans living in really remote areas. The US announced a $320 million aid effort for Afghanistan.

Uzbekistan announced that it would not allow American troops to launch air or ground attacks from its territory. But troops and aircraft, for search and rescue, reconnaissance and humanitarian missions, will be allowed. The United States is buying weapons and ammunition from Kyrgyzstan for shipment to the Northern Alliance.  Kyrgyzstan has the only weapons production facilities in Central Asia, a leftover from the Soviet Union. The plant produces assault rifles and ammunition for them.  

 

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