Afghanistan: Exploiting Religion For Political Gain

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October 10, 2007: NATO commanders are convinced that Iran, in the form of the Al Quds Force (a section of the Revolutionary Guards that supports foreign Islamic radicals) is supplying the Taliban with weapons. Several shipments of Iranian weapons have been captured over the Summer. Iran denies everything, as they do for similar activities in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries.

October 9, 2007: Just across the border in Pakistan, nearly a week of fighting between the army and pro-Taliban tribes has left hundreds dead and over a thousand wounded. Some of the tribes are incensed because the army has entered the tribal territories over the last few years, seeking to shut down al Qaeda operations. The tribes tolerate al Qaeda because there has always been a tradition of being "more Moslem than thou." Tribal leaders seeking more power have long played the religious card, and tried to gain more power with it. Same thing in Afghanistan, which is where the Taliban came from. The problem is that most Pushtun, on both sides of the border, do not want to live the strict lifestyle the hard-core Taliban demand. That eventually leads to violence. Even drug gang leaders can play the religion card, by insisting that their heroin is "poisoning the infidel", and ignoring the thousands of Afghans who get addicted, or caught up in the general lawlessness and debauchery that accompanies the flood of drug money.

October 8, 2007: Australia suffered its first combat fatality in Afghanistan, when a soldier was killed by a roadside bomb. There are about a thousand Australian troops in Afghanistan, where Australian forces have been active since 2001. But these operations are not politically popular back in Australia, and the loss of a soldier in combat is expected to lead to the withdrawal of Australian troops from Afghanistan.

October 5, 2007: Afghan forces retook a remote district headquarters that had been captured by hundreds of Taliban two days earlier. The Taliban have done this several times over the past few year. Basically, it's a publicity stunt. The Taliban hire several hundred local tribesmen, usually including many who are on the outs with whichever tribal faction is running the district. The town where the district headquarters is located, will be looted, especially the two or three government buildings. When the police approach, the tribesmen will flee back to their villages with the loot. Afghans in general, but especially the rural tribesmen, have a big thing about loot. Always have.

 

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