Afghanistan: December 5, 2001

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The Afghan peace talks in Germany have reached an agreement that forms a temporary government led by a south Afghanistan Pushtun chief Hamid Karzai. Three Northern Alliance leaders got three key positions. The three Northern Alliance leaders in Germany pretty much shut out Northern Alliance head Burhanuddin Rabbani. Karzai is a royalist and an anti-Taliban veteran of the war with Russia in the 1980s. Putting a Pushtun at the head of the temporary government is meant to obtain the participation of the Pushtuns. The new government is only meant to rule long enough (two months) for the king to come back and call the Loya Jirga. This national council would form a longer term government that would draw up a new constitution and arrange for elections. This would take about two years. The only potential problem with all this is whether the warlords back in Afghanistan will go along with it. If the vast majority of the warlords don't buy in, more civil war will be the result. While Burhanuddin Rabbani is not very popular, he could serve as a rallying point for warlords who want a different kind of deal.

Fighting continues in the north. The source of the conflict is foreign Taliban and local Pushtuns who expect revenge for their oppression of the locals during the last five years. The Pushtun dominated Taliban drove many locals from their land and towns and brought in Pushtun settlers from the south. These Pushtuns made common cause with local Pushtuns to take advantage of the Local Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazara. So far, there has not been a lot of payback, but Afghans trust more to their guns than promises. The Northern Alliance is trying to negotiate with the Pushtuns, but is faced with a fight to the death with the foreign Taliban.

The U.S. suffered it's first combat casualty in ground combat, with a special forces trooper wounded in the shoulder while fighting Taliban near Kandahar. The wound was not life threatening. But in another friendly fire accident, a bomb from a B-52 missed it's target and killed two American soldiers and wounded another 20. Several anti-Taliban Pushtuns were wounded as well. 

U.S. marines in southern Afghanistan have extended their attack helicopter and ground patrols south of Kandahar, but have not encountered any Taliban troops. 

For the first time since 1990, the U.S. army has, as the law allows, stooped soldiers in key combat specialties from being discharged or retiring. About a thousand special forces troops are affected by this. 

About a thousand anti-Taliban Pushtuns are fighting Taliban troops near the tunnel complex of Tora Bora. Part of the complex was captured.


 

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