Afghanistan: May 31, 2004

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  The voter registration program has reached 2.7 million of the nations estimated ten million eligible voters. But the Taliban and other Islamic conservatives are determined to stop the registration process and restore a religious dictatorship. So far, the Taliban has provided enough action to keep the foreign journalists entertained, but not enough to stop the voter registration process. A greater potential obstacle is the drug gangs and warlord militias. These groups have far more guns, and followers, than the Taliban. The government has tried to assure the drug gangs and warlords that the national elections are not a threat, but the drug gangs and warlords see democracy as a threat. But there has not been a lot of violent resistance to the voter registration crews by the drug gangs and warlords, but there is a lot of intimidation. 

The Taliban have not been able to mount a major threat to government control in the southern part of the country. But the government doesn't have much control down there to begin with. The government has appointed governors for provinces, and supplied some soldiers, and some money to hire local gunmen. But lack of  much tax revenue or foreign aid  means there were few trucks and radios at the provincial level. Air support, either transportation or air attacks, have to come from the Americans. The 20,000 American troops in the country are moving to areas that appear to be particularly pro-Taliban, and, working with local troops and police, searching for Taliban fighters. This forces the Taliban to keep moving, making them hard to catch, but also limiting the Taliban ability to make serious attacks on government control of the border areas. 

 

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