Afghanistan: Death To Sinners

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July 7, 2012:  The Taliban roadside bomb campaign continues to fail. Currently, only about five percent of bombs planted explode near anyone. The victims are usually civilians. The Taliban bombing campaign was defeated by a combination of technology and techniques developed in Iraq and the training of thousands of Iraqi troops to avoid, or find and disable, the bombs. The Taliban have been using more bombs on Afghan security forces, and in response the U.S. has been training more Afghan troops to deal with the bombs. This has been a success. The Afghans are quick to learn and appreciate that in the bomb detection and clearance business, you succeed or die. Military and police casualties from bombs are down, more so than civilian casualties. This improves the morale of Afghan security forces and makes civilians angrier at the Taliban (who make and plant the bombs) and drug gangs (who pay for it).

The Taliban are pushing their new tactic of recruiting suicide attackers to dress in police or army uniforms and attack foreign troops. Sometimes soldiers or police are recruited for this sort of thing. This is technically a "false flag" attack. So far this year there have been 19 false flag attacks, which left 26 foreign troops dead (8.5 percent of all combat deaths). For all of 2011, there were 21 attacks and 35 foreign troops killed (6.3 percent of combat deaths). Total foreign troop deaths are declining and the Taliban see the false flag attacks as more of a media opportunity than anything else, since the foreign media gives this sort of thing a lot of attention. These attacks also spotlight the pervasive corruption in Afghanistan. Without many Afghan soldiers and policemen willing to take a bribe, most of these false flag attacks would not be possible. The Taliban consider corruption (as in taking a bribe) to be sinful but the kind of sin Islamic radicals can live with.

The Taliban have been successful in keeping their casualties down. For each Afghan or foreign soldier or policeman killed, the Taliban lose at least three dead. But if you add losses from Afghan civilians, this matches Taliban deaths. Over 80 percent of the civilian deaths are caused by the Taliban. The growing dependence on terror has cost the Taliban most of the popular support they once had. Even Afghan Islamic conservatives are angered at the growing Taliban reliance of terror attacks and financial support from drug gangs. The Taliban campaign against sin is being defeated by their own bad behavior.

Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan are deteriorating even further because of growing cross-border violence. Pakistan refuses to take responsibility for the Islamic terror groups (especially the Haqqani Network) that have a sanctuary in Pakistan (North Waziristan). Haqqani regularly carries out terror attacks in Afghanistan and runs a lot of profitable criminal operations in Afghanistan as well. What Pakistan does acknowledge is that some of the Pakistani Taliban (and other anti-Pakistan Islamic terror groups) have fled to Afghanistan and set up bases there. With these sanctuaries the Pakistani Taliban can raid into Pakistan. In order to maintain the support, and protection, of their Afghan tribal hosts, these Pakistani terrorists do not make attacks in Afghanistan but instead concentrate on crossing the border and committing mayhem in Pakistan. The Pakistani government wants the Afghan military and NATO forces to find and destroy these anti-Pakistan terror groups. This is not happening because Afghan and NATO forces prefer to concentrate their efforts against terrorists carrying out attacks in Afghanistan from sanctuaries in Pakistan.

While Pakistani support for terrorists in Afghanistan is a big problem, the Afghan drug gangs remain the major supporter of Islamic terrorism, and mayhem in general, in Afghanistan. Over the last two years, Afghan and NATO troops have greatly reduced Taliban violence throughout Afghanistan, except for Kandahar and Helmand provinces in the south. These two provinces are the homeland of the Taliban and is where over 90 percent of the world supply of opium and heroin comes from. The drug gangs have been taking a beating and concentrated their gunmen (many of them Taliban) in this homeland. Efforts to move poppy growing (and production of opium and heroin from that plant) have failed. The drug gangs and the Taliban are putting up a stiff fight in Kandahar and Helmand. Not just with bullets but with bribes. A growing number of local and national government officials, and journalists, are on the drug gang payroll. The drug gangs believe that if they can hang on until the foreign troops leave next year they can then bribe and terrorize their way out of their current peril.

The Taliban gain a lot of support from Pushtuns because the Taliban are mainly a Pushtun organization, that supports Pushtun dominance in Afghanistan. The Pushtuns live mostly in the south, are 40 percent of the Afghan population, and are part of a Pushtun region that has two-thirds of the Pushtuns in Pakistan (where they are only 15 percent of the population). Many of the Pushtuns have always been more traditionally and socially conservative. The Saudi missionaries brought with them the ultra-conservative Wahhabi form of Islam in the 1980s. The missionaries worked in refugee camps in Pakistan, where millions of Afghans fled to avoid the fighting against the Russian invaders. The most enthusiastic Afghan converts to Wahhabism became the Taliban. It was the ISI (the Pakistani CIA) that formally recruited (from Pushtun refugees attending refugee camp and Islamic religious schools) and armed the Taliban and sent them into Afghanistan to end the civil war and take control of the country. The Taliban recruited like-minded Pushtuns in Afghanistan and proceeded to fight the other ethnic factions for control. By 1996, the Taliban had control of southern Afghanistan and Kabul. This war was still going on when September 11, 2001, came along.  The Taliban never conquered the entire country and most current Taliban terrorism is still in the Pushtun south.

Afghanistan has always been ruled by the better organized and more violent Pushtun minority. Modern Afghanistan (which is only a few centuries old) came about when non-Pushtun tribes to the north (Uzbek, Hazara, Tajik) agreed to become allies with the Pushtuns in order to keep foreigners (Russians, Iranians, British) out of their little piece of the world. Although the Pushtuns were the minority, they were the largest minority and it was understood that the Pushtuns would take the lead. So the king of Afghanistan was almost always a Pushtun. So is the current president of Afghanistan. But the Pushtuns believe that president Karzai is too generous to the "lesser (non-Pushtun) tribes" who backed Karzai in the elections (and political bargaining) in becoming president. The Pushtun resent the presence of foreign troops because these heavily armed outlanders threaten Pushtun domination of the northern tribes. In many ways, the current war in Afghanistan is a struggle between the northern (non-Pushtun) tribes and the Pushtun. Many of the Afghan soldiers and police are from the north, and very few of the foreign troops are of Pushtun ancestry.

These tribal differences often get ugly. For example, recently some Pushtun academics published, with government money, a report describing the Hazara (descendants of medieval Mongol invaders) as bad people (the Mongols are still hated for the savage tactics they used to conquer what is now Afghanistan). This same report also asserted that Pushtuns are actually 60 percent of the population. The government was forced to denounce this report and apologize for any government involvement. But for the non-Pushtuns, it was yet another example of Pushtun arrogance and delusions.

Medical investigators have concluded that dozens of reported Taliban poison attacks on girls schools were the result of mass hysteria. No trace of poison was ever found and the victims recovered rapidly. All the victims were very aware of Taliban threats to attack schools for girls, and that often includes teachers and students as well as buildings. In short, the girls had been terrorized. The Taliban consider educating girls to be sinful.

July 5, 2012: Pakistan opened its border to NATO supply trucks for the first time in eight months. Pakistani attempts to extort a fee of $5,000 per truck, to open the border, failed. That would have meant $14 million a month in the pockets of Pakistani politicians and generals. NATO paid about $14,000 more per container to move them in by air or via Central Asian railroads. This shift to the northern route was underway even before Pakistan closed the border last November. At that time, only about 30 percent of NATO cargo was coming in via Pakistan. This shift away from Pakistan was in response to growing theft and attacks on NATO cargo. The Pakistanis could not be trusted and it was considered worth the extra expense to move critical cargo in via other, more secure, routes.

June 22, 2012: Overnight four Taliban gunmen attacked a lakeside resort outside Kabul. In addition to the attackers, 14 other Afghans were killed, most of them guests at the resort. The Taliban launched the attack because they consider such resorts as un-Islamic and any Moslem going there sinners. Islamic conservatives from the countryside have been attacking "modernized" Afghans like this for over a century. It's one of the things that makes Afghanistan what it is.

 

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