Afghanistan: Something Has Got To Give


April 9, 2010: In the last few days, efforts to take down the terrorist leadership and technical specialist network, have had increasing success. In Kandahar, a wanted Taliban bomb maker was arrested. In the southeast, a leader of a weapons smuggling and distribution network for the Haqqani network was arrested. Intelligence efforts reveal that the Taliban are increasingly unable to plan and carry out attacks because of missing leaders (who are either dead or arrested, or scrambling to avoid capture.) This is having an impact. The bombs, especially the roadside bombs, are not as reliable or sophisticated as those in Iraq. Thus these bombs are not nearly as effective as those in Iraq. One thing the terrorist bombs have in common with those in Iraq, is that most of the victims are local civilians.

The billions of dollars generated each year by the drug gangs of Afghanistan has proved vulnerable to detection and seizure. The U.S. has sent more banking and money laundering experts to Afghanistan to work with intelligence forces to find drug cash, and seize it. This has made it more difficult for the drug gangs to move money, and use it. There have also been increasing arrests of local banking officials because of the American Treasury Department investigators.

President Karzai is not responding well to increasing Western pressure to clean up the corruption. While Karzai himself is believed to be reasonably clean, friends and family members, not to mention government subordinates, are heavily involved with stealing foreign aid, and taking bribes from drug gangs. In response, Karzai has recently accused the West of plotting against him, and threatened to join the Taliban. Karzai also accused the West, not his own people, of rigging last year's election that got him reelected. Presidential aides scrambled to deny Karzai said any of this (or didn't really mean it), and maybe he didn't. But the growing Western pressure to stop stealing and start governing is getting a reaction. The senior politicians don't want to stop getting rich, but they also don't want the Western government and media digging into government affairs, and publicizing who is stealing what, and putting more restrictions on how aid money can be spent. Karzai copes with this by trying to make a big deal of how important it is for Afghanistan to be free of foreign influence (but not foreign money). Most of the Afghan government budget is foreign aid. The vast majority of Afghans are against corruption and inept government (although most Afghans will accept a bribe if offered one). Something's got to give.

April 8, 2010: Police in Kabul, acting on a tip, arrested five suicide bombers. The five were on their way to carry out attacks in downtown Kabul. The bombers belonged to the Haqqani network, an al Qaeda affiliated group based across the border in North Waziristan, Pakistan.  

April 7, 2010: In Marjah, a local Taliban leader, Mullah Burhan, died, along with two of his followers, when a bomb they were building went off. Marjah has been back under government control for two months, but many Taliban fighters are seeking to regain power with a terror campaign.

April 6, 2010: In the northwest (Badghis province) NATO and Afghan troops attacked a group of Taliban that had been terrorizing the area for some time. One Afghan soldier was killed, and 27 dead Taliban were recovered.

April 3, 2010: Last month, there were 989 roadside bombs encountered in Afghanistan, compared to 429 in March of 2009. But casualties are not by nearly as much. Last month, 39 foreign troops died, compared to 28 in March, 2009. IED (roadside bomb) deaths were 275 last year, but are running at a rate that is only 13 percent higher this year. American counter-IED techniques from Iraq are being applied successfully in Afghanistan.





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