Afghanistan: Iran Helps Out

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July 25, 2007: The Taliban kidnapped 18 Christian medical missionaries from South Korea (18 women and three men) last week, and demanded the release of imprisoned Taliban, in return for freeing the South Koreans. The Taliban also want South Korea to withdraw its 200 troops (all combat support and civil affairs) in Afghanistan. Police and soldiers soon located the kidnappers, and their captives, and surrounded them. This gives the government considerably more leverage in the negotiations. The government says if will use force, if negotiations fail. So far, negotiations have failed. The Taliban also say they have killed two German captives, but there is no proof. All this kidnapping of foreigners is an ancient practice in a region that has, for thousands of years, been notorious for its banditry and general lawlessness.

The Taliban continue to lose battles, with over a hundred of them killed in the last few days. The Taliban are desperate to protect drug producing operations in Helmand province, but they have been unable to do so. Large (a hundred or men) groups of Taliban try to take on NATO forces, but never succeed. The survivors of these battles flee back to Pakistan, where their descriptions of NATO combat techniques makes it more difficult for the Taliban to recruit new fighters. But the Taliban pays well, better than the Afghan police and army. But the risk is very high, and the quality of Taliban recruits has been declining. The Taliban need the income from heroin and opium production in order to meet their payroll and stay in business.

Afghan border guard officers claim that Iran is openly moving weapons across the border, and giving them to the Taliban. Iran is also allowing the Taliban to receive terrorist training (bomb making) in Iran. Normally, the Taliban is anti-Shia, and during the 1990s persecuted Afghan Shia (often to death). But Islamic radicals hate the United States more than they hate Afghans who kill Shia (the majority sect in Iran. but a minority in Afghanistan and Pakistan). The Iranians expect the Taliban to lay off the Afghan Shia while receiving Iranian aid, and that takes some of the edge off this distasteful business. The Iranians have huge (over 100,000) police and military forces on its eastern border, mainly to deal with Afghan drug smugglers.

 

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