Afghanistan: Taliban Turning Against Their Leaders

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September 15, 2005: There is growing evidence  that the Taliban is experiencing some internal rifts. This goes beyond the already considerable number of former Taliban government, military, and even religious leaders who have accepted amnesty from the Afghan government. There is apparently widespread dissatisfaction with Mullah Omar's leadership (or lack of it), and that he is even being criticized on religious grounds. Precisely how these tensions will work out is unknown. Even if the dissidents succeed in supplanting Mullah Omar it is unlikely that the Taliban's hostility to modernity will change.

September 14, 2005: The Taliban terror campaign against Afghan voters is underway. In southern Afghanistan, Taliban stopped a group of civilians, found voting cards on seven of them, and killed them for it. The Taliban consider democracy un-Islamic, and will kill anyone who disagrees with them. 

September 11, 2005: Operations against the Taliban, and the growth of the Afghan army and national police, have led the U.S. to plan a twenty percent cut in their Afghan forces early next year. That would be a brigade (about 4,000 troops.) There's been a lot more combat for U.S. troops this year, more than at any time since 2001. As a result, casualties were higher: 63 dead so far,  less than two per week. This is less than a third the casualty rate suffered by troops operating under similar conditions in Vietnam forty years ago. The difference is better training, equipment and leadership. 

September 10, 2005: Police found the bodies of five men kidnapped earlier by Taliban raiders. The dead included a candidate for parliament, a district official and three others.  Elsewhere in southern Afghanistan, American and Afghan troops killed at least 30 Taliban, and arrested 60 others. Large quantities of weapons and ammunition were captured, along with documents and communications gear. 

September 9, 2005: A convoy, containing the defense minister, was fired on as it entered the airport outside Kabul. It was first believed that this was an assassination attempt. But further investigation it turned out that the convoy drove into a gun battle between two groups of soldiers, one of which thought the others were imposters (al Qaeda or Taliban trying to get into the airport for an attack).

 

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