Afghanistan: Taliban Reinforcement Effort a Bloody Failure

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January12, 2007: The Taliban are being unusually active over the Winter, apparently trying to get reinforcements, and supplies (especially ammunition) into Afghanistan. Many of these movements are being detected along the border, as NATO and Afghan troops expand their network of sensors and patrols by ground troops and aircraft (especially UAVs). It's preferable to catch the Taliban while they are moving, otherwise, you risk killing civilians. Two days ago, for example, sixteen Taliban were found in a compound near the Pakistani border. The Taliban were holding 13 civilians with them and would not surrender, and appeared ready to sneak off at night. The compound was bombed, killing everyone inside. This gives the Taliban a propaganda "victory" because of the dead civilians (who may, or may not, have been Taliban supporters.) But when some of the dead are women and children, the Taliban make the most of it in their propaganda, and simply ignore accusations that they use the civilians as human shields.

January 11, 2007: A force of about 150 Taliban were spotted driving in Afghanistan from Pakistan. NATO air and Afghan ground forces hit the two convoys about two kilometers from the Pakistani border. A few Taliban were captured alive, most were killed, and large quantities of weapons and ammunition were found in the bombed out trucks. Pakistani border guards also spotted the trucks on their side of the border, but were only able to fire some artillery at the Taliban, before the vehicles got across the border.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the most conservative of the warlords the Taliban defeated in the 1990s, took credit for guiding Osama bin Laden and his henchmen out of Afghanistan in late 2001. Hekmatyar still has followers in Afghanistan, but has been a minor player since he fled the country in the late 1990s. He was in exile in Iran in 2001, and now hides out in Pakistan.

January 10, 2007: In southwest Afghanistan, a force of about a hundred British troops, ambushed by about three dozen Taliban, killed most of the Taliban after several hours of fighting. There were no British casualties. The British were setting up permanent checkpoints on the roads in the area, to limit Taliban use of the roads, and forcing them to move cross country. In a separate operation, NATO and Afghan troops caught a group of Taliban and killed nine of them.

January 8, 2007: NATO forces lost half their air force as the U.S. aircraft carrier Eisenhower was diverted from it's station off the Pakistan coast, to join three other American warships patrolling the Somali coast. The Eisenhower has 80 warplanes (mainly F-18s), but these are actually only equivalent to half that many aircraft based inside Afghanistan, because of the long flight time from the carrier in the Indian ocean. Meanwhile, Afghan forces depend on about three dozen F-16s, A-10s, Harriers and AH-64 gunships. There is also at least one heavy bomber (a B-1) flying up from Diego Garcia or the Persian Gulf, each day. The aircraft based in Afghanistan can handle the usual calls for assistance, but the F-18s are good for a surge. Since it's Winter, most Taliban are inside, trying to keep warm.

January 7, 2007: To appease the Hazara (descendents of the Mongol invaders, and about 15 percent of the population), the government has banned a popular Indian movie, "Kabul Express," which shows the Hazara behaving badly. In that respect, the film reflects the hostility that most Afghans still feel towards the Hazara, who are Shia Moslems. The Mongols conquered Afghanistan 800 years ago, and were none-too-gentle about it. Most non-Mongols in Afghanistan still hold a grudge against the Hazar, who are considered the descendents of the Mongol invaders. The Taliban were particularly brutal against the Hazara in the 1990s. But these days, the government is encouraging Afghans to get along. Although the film is banned, it is widely available on DVDs and CDs. The banning was mainly a good will gesture to the Hazara (who were prominent in the pre-September, 2001 resistance to the Taliban, and hold several senior positions in the government today.)

Meanwhile, in southwest Afghanistan, British troops kill fifteen Taliban, including a senior commander. Another three Taliban die while setting up a roadside bomb (which accidentally explodes.) The Taliban are using more roadside bombs, but these often end up just killing civilians. Inside towns, the terror campaign continues against teachers, with Taliban death squads going after them.

January 6, 2007: Since 2002, about half a million refugees have returned to southwest Afghanistan, but now another hundred thousand or so have had to flee their homes because of increase Taliban terrorism.

 

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