Afghanistan: November 2, 2001

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The US diplomatic offensive, kept quiet so far, is coming out into the open. The Taliban have already captured Abdul Haq, and promptly hung him for trying to talk Taliban tribes into switching sides. Haq, a noted fighter in the 1980s war against the Russians, was always anti-Taliban, and not associated with the Northern Alliance either. Haq left Afghanistan after the Taliban took over. Haq went and set up a trading company that operated in Pakistan and the Persian Gulf. When America called for people like him to help form an anti-Taliban government, Haq went right in, and refused to work with the CIA. Haq was always known as a free spirit, and this time it got him killed. But other anti-Taliban leaders living outside the country have joined in with the new anti-Taliban movement. All (or at least most) of these exiled Afghan leaders are allied with the former king. This movement is sending people into Afghanistan to negotiate deals with pro-Taliban group. The CIA is supplying money and whatever else is needed (like helicopter transport and armed rescues) to support the effort. The Taliban has noticed, and is picking up anyone involved, or suspected of involvement. The Taliban says it will promptly hang anyone caught trying to forment opposition to their rule in Afghanistan. 

US B-52s continue to make single plane bombing raids, this time on Taliban troops north of Kabul. There were at least two of these raids. These attacks kill a lot more Taliban troops than single bomb attacks by smaller bombers. But it takes attacks by multiple  B-52s to pulverize Taliban positions enough for Northern Alliance troops to advance.

Osama bin Laden has made a personal appeal to civilians and soldiers in Pakistan to rise up against their country (which bin Laden accuses of being pro-Christian) in support of bin Laden's war against Christianity. Bin Laden rightly sees Pakistan as a key battlefield in the struggle for Afghanistan. Bin Laden and the Taliban still have many very active supporters in Pakistan. 

America has apparently completed setting up it's support operations in Uzbekistan, because an announcement was made that more special operations troops would not be going into Afghanistan. These guys travel in small groups (from half a dozen for long range patrols to a hundred or more for ranger raids) and use helicopters a lot. Additional helicopters have to be available in case any of the troops get into trouble with larger numbers of Taliban troops. It appears that there are already several thousand US troops in Uzbekistan, plus lots of equipment (helicopters, vehicles, electronic warfare gear and so on.) America has also been visiting with Russian veterans of the 1980s war in Afghanistan. Of particular interest are Uzbeks and Tajiks who served in Russian Spetznaz (commando) units. Spetznaz units, composed of volunteers, attracted non-Russians like Central Asians and people from the Caucasus. The young men of these "warrior cultures" were drafted like everyone else in the former Soviet Union. It became customary for these young men to volunteer for the paratroopers or Spetznaz, seeing this as a more honorable way to perform their obligatory military service. When the war in Afghanistan broke out, the Tajik and Uzbek members of the Spetznaz were particularly valuable as they knew more about that part of the world and were not too unhappy killing Pushtuns (who made up the majority of the Afghans actively opposing the Russians.) Tajiks and Uzbeks have had been relations with the Pushtuns for centuries. These veterans of the Soviet Spetznaz are now sought for their detailed knowledge of how best to fight the Afghans on their own ground. Some of these vets may have been enticed to sign on for more active service. 

Much is being made about how it would be bad form to continue bombing Afghanistan during the Moslem Holy Month of Ramadan (which begins on November 19). But keep in mind that the 1973 Arab-Israeli war started when Egypt attacked Israel at the start of Ramadan. In Arab nations, that war is called the "Ramadan War." The Northern Alliance and Taliban have not observed truces during Ramadan in years past. In other words, any talk of a ceasefire during Ramadan is just another Information War ploy by the Taliban to get the bombs off their back.

 

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