Afghanistan: December 10, 2001

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U.S. marines at Camp Rhino now number nearly 1,500 (including Naval Construction troops, or "SeaBees") and are taking on more jobs. A detention center is being built next to the camp, and a convoy of 30 armored vehicles (probably containing up to 200 Marines) was seen heading for Kandahar. The marines may be joining special forces teams that are already in the city and, along with Pushtun tribesmen, searching for mullah Omar and other Taliban and al Qaeda leaders. The marines are expected to set up roadblocks around the exists from the city. 

In Kabul, American diplomats and marine guards reoccupied the American embassy, which has been empty for twelve years. 

Southern warlords are eager to join the battle of Tora Bora, more arrive daily. Tribal leaders have asked their people to capture and turn in any "Arabs" (non-Afghans) they see in their area. U.S. Special forces teams working with Afghans continue to direct smart bombs that pound caves around Tora Bora. The 7.5 ton Daisy Cutter bomb has also been used, much to the delight of the Afghans, who appreciate a really large explosion. Some Afghan's believe he is not there, but there are a lot of non-Afghans in the Tora Bora area and they are fighting to the death. The anti-Taliban contingents from different Pushtun tribes often don't get along and there have been some tense moments when rival tribesmen pointed weapons at one another. 

Interim president Hamid Karzai demonstrated his leadership abilities by presiding over a successful meeting of faction leaders in Kandahar and clearing up differences that threatened to degenerate to open warfare. Well, most of the differences. Karzia defused the most violent disputes, but differences remain. It will be an ongoing problem to settle differences between tribal leaders who have high opinions of themselves and what they feel their tribe deserves as land and power is redistributed in the wake of the Taliban collapse. While the Taliban often negotiated, they were also prone to invoke "God's will" for their decisions, or simply used brute force. Most Afghan tribal leaders (and even many warlords) achieve their positions because of their skill at negotiating and arbitrating disputes. But Karzai had an advantage in the Kandahar meeting, for he is from the area. Out west, Pushtun tribes have stopped shouting at each other and proceeded to the open warfare. In the last 24 hour, at least seven have died as the western tribes battle over who will control territory and drug smuggling routes into Iran. In the north, Uzbek general Dostum says he will not use force in his disagreement over composition of the interim government. 

The United States has announced that it's troops will not be part of any peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. But Britain, Germany, Australia, Canada, France, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan and Turkey have offered troops for peacekeeping duties. Britain plans to be the first to get troops into Afghanistan, while Turkey is slated to be in charge of the peacekeeping force. The Turks, in addition to being Moslem, have the most formidable military reputation in the Moslem world. The Turkish army is also noted for its lack of corruption and professionalism. So far, the Afghans have shown some enthusiasm for peacekeepers in cities, but less so for working in the countryside. Rural peacekeepers may be reduced to operating as convoy guards, a dangerous but necessary job. 

 

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