So far this year, Taliban and drug
gang related violence has left about 1,700 dead. It's less than last year, and
lower than the average annual death toll in Afghanistan for the last three
decades. There's always a lot of tribal violence and banditry in Afghanistan.
Each of the thirty or so major tribes considers itself sovereign in its own
territory, and the armed men of the tribe are often used as an army to defend
tribal territory, or expand it. Been that way for thousands of years, and most
rural Afghans are not in a hurry to change it.
June 4, 2007:
In the last week, two boats, ferrying people across the Helmand river in
the south, sank or capsized. This left nearly a hundred people dead, most of
them Taliban gunmen. The Taliban continue to operate in groups of 40-50 gunmen,
and continue to get detected and attacked from the air. The current Taliban
tactic is to run for the nearest residential area had hide among the civilians.
If the smart bombs catch you anyway, the Taliban will claim NATO is making war
on Afghan civilians. The media loves this and gives it lots of attention. Despite all this, a majority of the Taliban
combat groups coming into Afghanistan this year, have been found and attacked.
This usually results in most of the 40-50 gunmen getting killed, wounded or
captured. The captives report that the Taliban is having a harder time
recruiting in Pakistan, and is relying more on younger, less experienced,
religious school students. These kids are seeking martyrdom and paradise in
battle. An encounter with a smart bomb guarantees achieving one of those
objectives. Some of these kids are being brought over unarmed, as there are
many weapons dead Taliban no longer need. When the Taliban hustle away, they
try to grab the weapons of dead comrades.
June 3, 2007: In the last six years, 592 foreign
troops have been killed fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Two-thirds of the
dead have been American. British and Canadian troops made up about twenty
percent. Spain and Germany each account for about three percent, and several
other nations about six percent. The Taliban have lost nearly twenty times as
many fighters in that time.
June 2, 2007: Iranian style EFP roadside bombs are
being found in Afghanistan, along with rifles, pistols, grenades and other
weapons made in Iran and China. It's uncertain if the foreign weapons are
coming in with the active participation of the Iranian government, or via
smugglers who are being left alone by the government. Some factions in the Iranian
government are willing to export EFP (armor piercing bomb) technology to
foreign terrorists, even if they are not willing to move the goods
June 1, 2007:
NATO has declared the Taliban Spring Offensive non-existent. The Taliban
are introducing a new military leader (to replace the recently deceased Mullah
Dadullah) across the border in Pakistan. While the Taliban have been trying to
raise hell among the seven million or so Pushtuns of the south, the government
has been confronted with larger problems in other parts of the country. Various
factions are falling over each other trying to cut deals with wealthy drug
gangs. Not only are politicians for sale, but they are often in a bidding war
to offer their services to the drug gangs at the lowest price. The central
government has responded by replacing provincial officials who appear to be the
property of the local drug lord. That sometimes means the replacement has to
organize a small army, and force his predecessor to get out of town. Very Wild
West, but also very Afghanistan.
May 30, 2007:
A U.S. Army CH-47 helicopter crashed in the south, and the Taliban took
credit. It's still unclear if mechanical failure, or ground fire, brought down
the helicopter. The Taliban will always take credit for a helicopter crashing,
even if they had no gunmen in the area.