Afghanistan: Commandos Go After Taliban Leaders

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January26, 2007: In Western Afghanistan, Iran is pouring millions of dollars a year into Shia schools, mosques and social organizations. Naturally, the Shia have been a large minority in this area for centuries. But during the Taliban era of the late 1990s, the Shia were persecuted, tortured and killed. To make matters worse, most of the Shia were Hazara, descendents of the Central Asian troops the Mongols brought with them when the conquered the areas eight centuries ago. Other Afghans continue to hate the Mongol "invaders." Now, because of the Iranian aid, the Shia are better armed, and more determined to resist any new Taliban persecution. The Taliban believe the Shia are heretics, and in Islam, the punishment for heresy is death.

In the south, NATO commandos are having success in finding out where Taliban commanders are, and killing or capturing them. There are about three dozen Taliban commanders in the south, and if enough of them can be taken out of action, this years Taliban offensive will collapse.

January 25, 2007: There are daily incidents around Kandahar, as Taliban begin to move people in from Pakistan, and try to establish base camps. The police and army are running patrols in areas where the Taliban are trying to establish freedom of movement. But the pro-Taliban tribes are not as pro-Taliban as they were last year, and less enthusiastic about fighting the police and army constantly.

January 24, 2007: Sensing weakness, more warlords are publicly denouncing the Taliban, and urging young men not to join up.

January 23, 2007: The NATO commander believes that the Taliban cannot survive another defeat in 2007. That may be overly optimistic, given the tribal basis of the Taliban, and their fight against "outsiders." While the Taliban continue to make themselves more unpopular, they will always have some diehard support up in the hills.

In southeast Afghanistan, a Taliban suicide bomber set off his explosives outside a NATO base. The bomber detonated his explosives when it was clear he was not going to get into the base. Ten people were killed, most of them local civilians. This sort of failure just makes civilians angrier, and more willing to inform on Taliban activities.

January 22, 2007: The Taliban announced that, when they return to try and conquer southern Afghanistan this spring, they will spend at least a million dollars in building proper religious schools to replace the 200 secular schools they destroyed last year. Burning or trashing those schools was very unpopular, and the Taliban noted that many villagers would defend their schools from Taliban attacks. The Taliban also said they had changed their minds about educating girls, and would eventually have religious schools for girls. The Taliban believe that a basically religious education is all you need. While the Taliban love to use gadgets and modern technology, they don't seem to grasp how all that stuff comes about.

January 21, 2007: In the last week, eleven Taliban suicide bombers were arrested before they could carry out their attacks. Several suicide bomb teams were uncovered, and their operations disrupted. The suicide bomb attacks have not been skillfully carried out, and most of the casualties have been Afghan civilians. As a result, there have been more tips from civilians.

January 20, 2007: While the U.S. believes that Afghanistan is turning into another Colombia (where prosperous drug gangs ally with other rebel groups to fight the government), an important difference is the tribal organization in Afghanistan. Because of the tribal chiefs, there has been no use of aerial spraying to destroy poppy crops. The chiefs oppose it, fearing side effects. The government wants to try other methods (tearing up the crops) for one more year and, if that continues to fail, use the spraying.

 

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