Afghanistan: December 28, 2001

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U.S. intelligence efforts are increasing. A combination of aircraft, electronic eavesdropping and people on the ground are collecting a lot more information. Bombers are still flying daily missions and hitting areas containing Taliban leadership or al Qaeda forces. Anti-American media are asserting that purely civilian targets are being hit, but no evidence has come to light to support this. What is happening is that many of the Taliban leaders belong to tribes that contained many anti-Taliban fighters, or people who simply sat out the anti-Taliban uprising. The former Taliban are now living among neutral and anti-Taliban people. Bombing former Taliban leaders is likely to kill many who had nothing to do with the Taliban. But the new government has vowed to track down and arrest the senior Taliban leaders. This might get messy, as these Taliban honchos usually have strong tribal ties, meaning a war with the entire tribe will sometimes be required to get some of these guys.

The biggest challenge facing the new Afghan government is law and order. The nation is policed by tribal militias and warlords. But Afghanistan is such a large country, there are large areas that are not under anyone's control. Here the bandit's, a staple of Afghan culture, operate with impunity. The banditry makes it difficult to move relief supplies (which make do by moving in armed convoys.) 

 

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