Afghanistan: A Burning Passion for Ignorant Women

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December 27, 2005: The Taliban announced, via satellite phone to a reporter, that they were not beaten, would not compromise, that ten percent of their fighters were now foreigners, and that they would use more suicide attacks. The U.S. announced that it would start pulling its troops out of Afghanistan next year, with a 16 percent cut. The Afghan army now numbers 26,000 troops, and there are 55,000 national police. There are still many more men in tribal militias, but the government is on good terms with most of the tribes. This is how peace usually comes to Afghanistan, with a "king" in Kabul keeping the peace between the tribes. This time the king is elected, as is a national parliament. It remains to be seen how much this will change things.

December 26, 2005: A remote control mine went off 200 kilometers north of the capital, wounding two NATO troops and two civilians. For once, the Taliban were not suspected. This time it was followers of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Islamic radical who opposed the Taliban. Hekmatyar is believed hiding out in Pakistan, and the few armed followers he has sometimes operate inside Afghanistan.

December 25, 2005: The government announced the dismissal of two senior officials for spying. No one was identified, including the paymaster. It's likely either Pakistan or Iran had rented the two former officials.

December 24, 2005: The new Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are coming under attack, as was expected. The PRTs are trained and equipped to get reconstruction and aid projects going in areas where the Taliban has a presence, and an incentive to keep outsiders away. The PRTs are guarded by police and NATO troops, with American ground and air power on call. So far, the Taliban have not been able to stop a PRT, or even inflict significant casualties. The Taliban have instead concentrated on terrorizing locals to stay away from PRT projects. The Taliban are particularly upset at attempts to educate women and girls. Thus burning down schools is a Taliban favorite.

 

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