Afghanistan: You Got To Get Paid

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March 12,2008: With the Taliban taking a beating on both sides of the Pakistan border, NATO commanders see an opportunity to finish off the Islamic extremist movement if they have a few thousand more combat troops. These can be used to quickly stomp on the few remaining Taliban combat groups, and demoralize the rest. NATO is unlikely to deliver, as many member nations refuse to allow their troops to be used for combat operations. Thus is appears that the existing NATO/U.S. force will repeat last year, and just kill thousands of Taliban fighters over eight months of warm weather campaigning this year. Eventually, the pro-Taliban tribes will get tired of this. More of these tribes have been offering to make peace with the government. This is not entirely a good thing. What the tribes mean by "peace" is no more (or just "less") support for the Taliban, so the tribal warriors can go off and make some real money in the drug business. Religion is important, but you got to make a living. The warriors want to get paid, and al Qaeda is running short of cash.

Iran is going through with its plan to expel a million Afghan refugees. Many of these have been in Iran for over two decades, and have put down roots. But the Afghans are a source of manpower and support for the Afghan drug smuggling gangs. The refugees also compete for jobs with Iranians, and harbor criminals that prey on Iranians. Moving that many refugees back into Afghanistan will cause an increase in crime and much misery, as Afghanistan is not ready to deal with that many returnees. Iran doesn't care, and is angry at Afghanistan constantly saying they are not ready to receive the refugees, which Iran has supported for decades.

Al Qaeda in Afghanistan web sites are trying to portray the terrorist organization as victims of the evil West. This campaign includes pictures and stories about recently killed (in Pakistan) al Qaeda leader Abu Laith al Libi. The web sites also make a big deal about political cartoons in Denmark condemning Islamic terrorism. Some of these cartoons use images some Moslems find offensive, so demonstrations have been organized in Afghanistan, to provide video to be used to further intimidate Westerners. These videos also reinforce the attitude that the West is oppressing the Moslem world. The Danish political cartoonist who started the cartoon flap now lives under police guard, because so many Moslems have threatened to kill him.

Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud has been formally charged as the mastermind of the assassination of Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto. This has caused something of a state-of-war between the Taliban and the Pakistani government, and continues to decrease support for the Afghan Taliban.

The Taliban and al Qaeda will continue their use of suicide and roadside bomb attacks this year. Last year, they made 228 suicide bomb attacks, although 30 percent of those were detected before they could be carried out. In 2006, there 140 attacks, of which 12 percent were thwarted. These attacks have, so far, mostly killed civilians, and just made the terrorists more unpopular. However, the strategy of sending groups of gunmen around the countryside to intimidate the population has not worked either, given the NATO ability to hunt down and kill the gunmen.

The Taliban damaged two cell phone towers outside the southern city of Kandahar, when the cell phone companies refused to shut down service at night. The Taliban believe NATO is using cell phone signals to track Taliban movements at night. Actually, NATO has several ways to track the Taliban at night. Meanwhile, the Taliban are continuing to attack UN relief and reconstruction projects, since these efforts make the recipients more likely to provide information on Taliban movements and operations. The Taliban are also continuing to hamper polio vaccinations. This is part of a world-wide effort to eliminate polio completely. But it has been hampered in several parts of the world. By paranoid Islamic clerics, who believe the vaccinations are part of a Western campaign to poison Moslems.

 

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