12:04 PMRestoration in Afghanistan, continued
1. Politics in the epoch of Restoration.
Sergey Zharov writes:
"Outside the Kabul the real power belongs to the field commanders, each of whom controls one or more province of Afghanistan. For example, Rashid Dustum takes care of the region of Mazari-Sharif, Ismail Khan - Herat, etc. President (Karzai) interests them as a distributor of foreign money and a muffle at the top position; otherwise, a civil war would start again, as it was in the years before the appearance of Taliban".
Karzai is no more than a mayor of Kabul, and fully dependent on the soldiers of NATO. He is balancing between former commanders of "the Northern Alliance", and thus preserves an uneasy peace. The situation is unstable, and cannot last long.
According to Zoya of www.rawa.org , in 2006 Karzai "appointed 13 former ("Northern Alliance") commanders with links to drugs smuggling, organized crime and illegal militias to senior positions in the police force".
As for the Parliament (Loya Jirga), on Monday, 15 July, 2002, we read in "Asian Marxist Review": “The participants of the Jirga comprise of mainly the afghan elite who fled with their wealth to the West after the 1978 Saur [spring] Revolution and the Afghan war lords who have been fighting for loot and power in and around their fiefdoms. The main aim of this congregation was to reach an agreement on the loot of the warlords and the continuation of the plunder of Afghan resources (including pipelines) by the imperialist conglomerates in which the "returned" elite could be agents with hefty commissions.”
The principal military-political force opposing the Karzai regime is Taliban. Russian traveler Sergey Zharov describes a negative reaction of people towards Taliban:
"To the questions about Taliban they give a usual, in their opinion, answer. A conversation quickly leads to a dead end. "It was very bad". - "Why?" - "Could not shave". - "But they stopped all the horror which the mujahideen began here after our (Russians) leaving here?" - "Well, yes..." - "And?" - "So what?" At this point, a topic had to be changed because the interviewee started to get nervous. Coherent criticism towards Taliban were formulated only by commanders of higher rank: "They acted in the foreign interests"
Wonder what they mean. Who stands behind Taliban? Pakistani intelligence?
Because of the hatred for the Karzai administration, the Taliban are gaining some support. HRW (Human Rights Watch) announced on September 27th 2006, "The Taliban and other anti-government groups in Afghanistan have gained public support due to the Afghan government's failure to provide essential security and development, and have used the presence of warlords in the government to discredit President Karzai's administration and its international backers."
The Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan published an analysis of Taliban called "On the situation of Taliban" (October 2005). Here are some excerpts:
"The people calling themselves Taleban today are only one part of the Taleban that was in power. Originally there were several factions. One was the faction of Mullah Omar, and the Taleban close to him, the most strictly fundamentalist current. Another faction was led by Mullah Rabbani, who were more moderate in religious terms by comparison. Later, after the Taleban seized power in Kabul, Mullah Rabbani became the equivalent of Prime Minister. Another group in Taleban close to Rabbani was Khodam al Froghan, which included older mullahs.
The Taleban were mainly composed of mullahs and religious school students. The Taleban also received political and military backing from a group called Shah Navaz, supporters of the deposed monarch Zahir Shah [among them today’s president, Hazmid Karzai, and his father], and the Party of the Afghan Nation, a Pashtun bigot organisation ... the faction of Zahir Shah supporters, that is, technocrats [mainly in favour of ties with the US and the West] and the Pashtun khans [local feudal despots] who had been supporting the Taleban began to distance themselves from them.
The US gradually distanced itself from the Taleban as well [Even though the US, acting through Pakistan, first brought them to power.] The Taleban assassinated Karzai’s father. After 11 September 2001, most of the other factions, including supporters of Mullah Rabbani, distanced themselves from Mullah Omar. Since the Taleban lost power, only a small part of their original forces, mainly the Mullah Omar faction, have continued to oppose the US and the new puppet regime. The other factions have been integrated into the new regime in various degrees... They suffered major losses during the US invasion. Some were scattered and disappeared. One section of those who fought the US at first left the Taleban and joined the government and became part of Karzai’s armed forces. So militarily and politically today’s Taleban is only one small piece of their original configuration... The Americans have estimated their number at about 1,000 fighters. The Taleban themselves give no number but claim that they have forces in 30 out of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. They are fighting a scattered guerrilla war, with no specified areas. Sometimes they mount operations of 200-300 armed men, especially near the Pakistan border. Occasionally they seize an area in certain Pashtun districts. But they are not able to stay there very long. So in practical terms, the US and its allies occupy the whole country...
The Pashtun masses are mainly against the occupiers and the puppet regime. The Taleban have been able to take advantage of this opposition – for example, to rely on them for logistics and to some extent recruit among them. But for various reasons, including the present Taleban slogans, the Pashtun masses don’t play an active part in the war. The fact is that the blind religious slogans that were once used against the Soviets and their puppet regime have little force against the US and its puppet regime. There are two reasons for that. One is that the US was closely allied with the Mojahedeen during the resistance against the Soviets [built as an anti-communist crusade, even though the USSR had long ceased to be socialist], and the US can’t be mistaken for communists. Secondly, the current puppet regime is an Islamic regime. These two factors work together and have weakened the religious motivation for resistance to the occupiers. The Tale
ban can’t rally support among the non-Pashtun masses, who are solidly against them. In fact, one reason for the extensive capitulation to occupiers and the puppet regime among non-Pashtun is a fear of a Taleban come-back. But among the non-Pashtuns, those who are against the occupiers and the puppet regime do not support Taleban... If we leave aside Gulbedin Hekmatyar [a Pashtun warlord and the leader of the notorious fundamentalist Islamic Party that has stayed outside the Karzai regime and the people close to him, who don’t amount to anything significant], the fact is that at the moment the Taleban are the only force fighting the US in Afghanistan".
2. War between Taliban and the U.S. occupation, year by year
There is a civil war inside the troops loyal to Hamid Karzai. Sunday, March 10, 2002, "Yahoo!" reported: “… a major split opened up among Afghan troops involved in the fighting. The area's top local commander, a Pashtun, demanded hundreds of mainly ethnic Tajiks reinforcements sent from Kabul be withdrawn from the battle and sent home. "We propose to (Afghan interim leader) Mr. Hamid Karzai to instruct the newcoming troops to go back to their places of origin," Commander Mohammad Ismail, commander of Paktia Province's local Pashtun forces, told a news conference. "I can assure you we obey and support the interim administration. The point is if the issue of Shahi Kot (site of the battle) is resolved, (Northern Commander) Gul Haider's troops might claim it, which is what we oppose. "We take this opportunity that the issue of Paktia be purely left to the people of Paktia," he said.”
Tuesday, June 24, 2003, in "Taliban Names Anti-U.S. Leadership Council" we learn that there are 11500 troops under the U.S. command hunting Taliban. Taliban published a leaflet in which it warned about forming suicide squads to revenge for fallen Taliban (photo).
August 25, 2003, "The New York Times" writes that the U.S. "currently spends $11 billion a year on its military forces in Afghanistan and $900 million on reconstruction aid" (examples of which we've seen above in the article about the Kabul - Quandahar highway).
Sunday, August 31, 2003, in an article "Taliban offers strong resistance" (Reuters): "Taliban fighters put up stiff resistance Sunday as Afghan and U.S. forces continued to hunt them down backed by artillery, jet fighters and attack helicopters, a senior official said. The U.S. military contributes about 10,000 troops to the 12,500-strong force hunting remnants of the Taliban".
35 American soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan so far, and 162 wounded. A high proportion of the wounded to the killed says that the means of personal protection work better than in the Russian army, and that the medical services are also better organized.
Tuesday, September 2, 2003, in "USA Today" we learn that the U.S. administration doubled its aid to nearly $2 billion, but Hamid Karzai says his country will need $15 to $20 billion over five years.
In the same article: «at U.S. urging, NATO last month took over command of a multinational force that has made the capital (Kabul) safer... Some 5,500 NATO-led peacekeepers have created security and goodwill in the Afghan capital of Kabul under a U.N. mandate. They operate separately from 9,000 U.S. troops that are hunting the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the southeast. Their success has prompted calls to send them to other parts of the country... Afghanistan is a backward nation run by warlords and bandits; its most lucrative export is opium".
September 3, 2003, "The New York Times", in "Endangered Peace in Afghanistan" writes: "The central government is bankrupt and powerless". That means that the government of Hamid Karzai has no troops at its command.
The newspaper continues: "Taliban fighters have now re-entered largely Pashtun areas of southern and eastern Afghanistan, where the Tajik-dominated national government is weak and resented, and have rebuilt a guerrilla army that is wreaking havoc. Afghans who cooperate with the Kabul government are targeted for assassination. International aid workers have been told to stay away for their own safety. Most of the north and west is run by warlords loyal only to themselves. Many are better armed than President Hamid Karzai's government and pass on to Kabul only those tax revenues they choose to".
November 1, 2003, "The New York Times" writes: "The United Nations under secretary general for peacekeeping operations, Jean-Marie Guehenno, told the Security Council last Friday that the Taliban had de facto control over three districts bordering Pakistan. He added that increasing attacks had forced the United Nations to suspend operations in four southern provinces, and in most of a fifth province, Kandahar, where the United States has stationed thousands of troops".
November 23, 2003, in an AP (Associated Press) article called "Five U.S. soldiers killed in Afghan Crash", we learn that "Bagram Air Base, just north of the capital, is home to most of the 11,600 coalition forces in Afghanistan". An additional 5,000 "international peacekeepers" patrol Kabul.
From letters of American soldiers who died in Afghanistan and published in "The New York Times", May 30, 2004: “We were rushed and pushed down here without proper planning and coordination.” Sergeant Vance, 38 “We are so isolated. The guerrillas and the Northern Alliance are nice and easygoing.”
KM.RU, a Russian conservative server, wrote in early 2004:
"At the present moment in Afghanistan there are 11500 coalition soldiers, among which 8500 are American soldiers. In addition, 5000 peacekeepers are under NATO command in Kabul... It is known that currently Pentagon spends about 1 billion dollars a week in Iraq and around 1 billion dollars a month in Afghanistan"
Sounds like spring 2007 offensive, except that the numbers of soldiers and expenses in 2007 are much greater.
April 18 2004, we read an interview with Taliban's leader Mullah Omar (at "Mirror of the world" site, mostly devoted to Iraq war).
"Q. What is your strategy?
A. We carry out guerilla activities. We recently carried out some suicide attacks that have been very fruitful by the grace of God. We have set up a special suicide squad that consists of 2,000 Taliban. This squad will make life hell for the US and its allies and force them out of Afghanistan.
Q. Don't you think you unnecessarily antagonised the international community? After all, what was the rationale behind destroying the Bamiyan Buddha? (photo)
A. I did not want to destroy the Bamiyan Buddha. In fact, some foreigners came to me and said they would like to conduct the repair work of the Bamiyan Buddha that had been slightly damaged due to rains. This shocked me. I thought, these callous people have no regard for thousands of living human beings — the Afghans who are dying of hunger, but they are so concerned about non-living objects like the Buddha. This was extremely deplorable. That is why I ordered its destruction. Had they come for humanitarian work, I would have never ordered the Buddha's destruction.
Clearly, the leader of Taliban is more humane than all those "humanitarian NGO's". According to Zoya speaking on behalf of RAWA in Hollywood in 2006, "700 children and 50-70 women die each day due to the lack of health services. Afghanistan is a land where hundreds of people die because of a lack of food and bitter winters. Fed up with the hardships they have been facing over the years, 65 per cent of the 50,000 widows in Kabul see suicide the only option to get rid of their miseries and desolation as revealed in a survey conducted by UNIFEM".
The next question to Mullah Omar was about the Loya Jirga:
A. The Loya Jirga is a US ploy to derive legitimacy for the Karzai government. We denounce it. Our position is clear: we will kill all those who will register themselves as voters or cast votes in the forthcoming election. We will kill all those who support the US and its allies in any manner. America is the greatest evil on earth. It is the enemy of Islam. Whoever is the US friend is the enemy of Islam.
Q. What do you think of Afghan President Hamid Karzai?
A. He is a puppet of America, just like Abdul Haq, Haji Abdul Qadeer and Ahmad Shah Masoud. We condemned these three traitors to death. Insha Allah very soon, Karzai will also meet their fate. We want to show the world how the Taliban treats traitors!"
June 12, 2004, "The New York Times" writes: "President Hamid Karzai said Sunday that Afghanistan's private militias had become the country's greatest danger... greater than the Taliban insurgency... He (Karzai) said that corruption remained rampant and that the failure of the disarmament program was a source of keen anxiety among the people... Out of the 60,000 armed militiamen, only 10,000 have been disarmed and demobilized"
Hence, the real story in Afghanistan is militias of former Northern Alliance fighting each other and the government of Karzai and his American backers.
April 10, 2005, the AP news agency: "Thirteen American service members and three civilian contractors were initially confirmed dead in the crash of the CH-47 Chinook near Ghazni, 80 miles south of the Afghan capital, Kabul. The (2) new remains were found Friday... The helicopter crashed as it was returning to Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, from a transportation mission in the insurgency-plagued south."
For a complete list of "accidents" involving helicopters and planes, and explanation of what happened to them, go here (in Russian).
"A World to Win News Service": "The criminal actions and brutality of the US-led occupation forces and the soldiers of the puppet regime have turned the Jalalabad to one of the most tense areas of Afghanistan and the scene of many anti-US, anti-regime and anti-war lord demonstrations. Students in Jalalabad were very active in the series of violent anti-US demonstrations that shook Afghanistan in May 2005, during which 17 students were killed. Also in Nangarhar province, when the occupation forces arrested a whole family, including two women, about a year ago, thousands of people poured into the streets and blocked the railway until those arrested were all freed". Let's notice that students are at the forefront of resistance to the U.S. and their allies.
May 6, 2005, "The New York Times": "Nine Afghan soldiers were killed and three were wounded in an ambush Thursday in southern Afghanistan, in the most deadly single attack by rebels against the newly trained Afghan National Army, a military spokesman said. The soldiers were on patrol in a mountainous district called Shah Wali Kot, in Kandahar Province, when their vehicle hit a mine and immediately came under fire from gunmen, said Gen. Zaher Azimi, the Defense Ministry spokesman."
Thus, we see attacks in Afghanistan are becoming similar in style to those carried in Iraq, i.e. mostly ambushes.
May 9, 2005, we read about more clashes between US soldiers and rebels. Also, there was a suicide attack on an Internet cafe in Kabul. But here is politics: "In an attempt to bring about national reconciliation, President Hamid Karzai has offered an olive branch to all but a hardcore of 150 militants accused of crimes against humanity. However in a move which appeared to contradict Karzai's earlier stand, Afghanistan's reconciliation commission said Monday that fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar could be offered an amnesty and allowed to enter politics." This is a sign of weakness on the part of Karzai government and even confusion.
May 22, 2005, "The New York Times" reveals that serious differences emerged between the Bush administration and President Karzai: "United States officials warned this month in an internal memo that an American-financed poppy eradication program aimed at curtailing Afghanistan's huge heroin trade had been ineffective, in part because President Hamid Karzai "has been unwilling to assert strong leadership." Bush administration gives no damn about drugs but there must be some other, hidden reason for such public complaints.
Apparently, the reason for disagreements between Karzai and Bush is control over the armed forces. "The New York Times" continues: "Afghan President Hamid Karzai left the White House on Monday with no promise of more control over thousands of American troops in his country and with strains in his relationship with the United States on full display".
In the same article we find out that: 1) Sixteen Afghans died in anti-American demonstrations this month, 2) There are about 20,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, costing about $1 billion a month. 3) There are also about 8,200 troops from NATO countries in Kabul and elsewhere.
Let's notice an increase in U.S. military presence in Afghanistan: from around 10000 in 2003 to 20000 in 2005. Similarly for NATO: from 5000 in 2003 to 8200 in 2005.
In a Reuters article from May 6, 2006, we read: "Taliban militants shot down another US Chinook helicopter in Kunar in June last year (i.e. June 2005), killing all 16 soldiers on board, eight of them US Navy SEALs. The chopper was brought down by a rocket propelled grenade, the US military said."
December 8, 2005, the BBC news: "US troops have been broadcasting messages which Human Rights Watch says implicitly threatens 'collective punishment' for people of the valley."
"A World to Win News Service" points to increasing strength of Taliban: "Lutfullah Mashal, a former spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, says Taleban fighters no longer rely solely on hit-and-run tactics by small groups of guerrillas. Instead, they have been concentrating into groups of more than 100 fighters to carry out frontal assaults on government security posts, Mashal says. 'They have never [concentrated their forces] like this before, and they were never been so effective in the past. The Taleban have never caused such high numbers of casualties to [Afghan] government forces before. Now, their attacks are more organized and they have started to fight using [more conventional methods] concentrating their forces together. And they have started creating battle lines.' Photo: Taliban fighters in 2006.
Agency of Political News (APN, a Russian news server), writes in an "Kabul-2006":
"The tactics of the guerrillas have changed. NATO commanders have admitted that from sporadic attacks Taliban has switched to open confrontation and frontal attacks. From Iraq, together with instructors and volunteers, came the well-known tactic of mass mining of the roads with radio-controlled shells and shahid attacks in cities and military check points.
At the present time in the province of Helmand (see map) a few hundred well-trained fighters, supported by the militias of the nomads and local population, are fighting 4 thousand British troops, and an additional 2.5 thousand are requested. 1000 NATO soldiers are expected in the nearest future, but "prosperous" Europe has no great enthusiasm for sending its citizens to fulfill "an international duty" in Afghanistan.
Around a half of the territory of the country is at the present time controlled by the Afghani opposition..."
"The West arrogantly doubts the natural right of Afghanis not to see foreign brute faces under their noses, not to tolerate the constant humiliation of their brothers and sisters. This is the main cause of the continuing war, and not "Islamic fanaticism" or "enemies of democracy".
It should be noted that the name "Taliban" which the West uses in reference to the forces of Afghani resistance, is rather conditional. In reality, we're talking about a colorful coalition in which an active role is played by the military commanders of the Taliban regime, such as mullah Dadullah, but also by forces distant from religious fundamentalism, such as Pushtun nationalist politician Jalalladin Khakkani and a patriarch of Afghani mujahideen G. Hekmatyar, and also numerous Pushtun tribes' leaders...
Hence, we're talking about a wide coalition of political forces of Pushtun majority in its confrontation with the interventionists and armed groups of national minorities who cooperate with them."
"A World to Win News Service" writes:
"The 29 May Kabul protests against the US armed forces, the most intense political actions in Afghanistan’s capital since the fall of the Taliban, were a telling result of nearly five years of occupation by the US and its allies.
The protests were sparked by a deadly traffic accident caused by a US military convoy. A flatbed truck leading the convoy smashed into at least 12 cars in morning rush-hour traffic in the northern part of Kabul, causing many deaths and injuries. People at the scene, including relatives, tried to approach and help the injured, but US soldiers stopped them. This added to the long-simmering resentment against the arrogant and dangerous way American convoys often barrel at top speed through the city to and from the Kandahar military base, often crashing through anything in their way, preventing other vehicles from approahing or overtaking them, and waving their guns around, even at other troops. The American soldiers found themselves trapped between an angry crowd and the smashed cars and could not escape, but they refused to back down and let the crowd rescue the injured. At least one Humvee opened fire with its heavy machine gun. This, in turn, made the people’s anger boil over. Students on their way to class and others in the crowd reacted by throwing stones at the convoy and shouting, 'Death to the US' and other anti-US slogans. The US military vehicles fled the scene, leaving it to the arriving Afghan police to continue shooting. The protestors rightly saw these police as US puppets and stoned them as well." Let's notice that it is the students who are at the forefront of resistance.
"The protests spread quickly to the city centre, close to US and Nato military bases and the area where their personnel and diplomats frequently visit. According to one witness, guards shot a dozen people as they tried to break into a British security company compound. Other protestors trying to reach the US Embassy across town were blocked by Afghan police and soldiers. Hundreds more marched towards parliament in the city's southwest. Chanting 'Death to America' and 'Death to Karzai', they tore down a large poster of Karzai, burned a US flag and attacked the offices and buildings and symbols of the government and occupiers. They burned a police station, police vehicles and other cars, a TV company headquarters, a post office and several NGO compounds, including the offices of the international aid organization CARE and the French NGO Acted... According to the Afghan authorities, there were at least 20 deaths and more than 160 injuries... The American military lied about the incident, claiming that their soldiers were attacked without provocation after an unavoidable accident due to 'mechanical failure' and simply defended themselves by firing over people's heads. Even the chief of the highway police in Kabul, a witness to the scene, had to set the record straight on that. When a parliamentarian complained that US troops should obey traffic laws and Karzai felt compelled to suggest that they shouldn't shoot civilians, US authorities rejected these comments out of hand, pointing out that Afghanistan had signed a treaty under which the country cannot arrest or prosecute occupation troops, a naked reminder of who holds real power in the country."
June 4, 2006, AP report shows that Taliban suicide threats are no empty words: "A suicide car bomb exploded Sunday near a convoy carrying the governor of Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province, missing the apparent target but killing three civilians and injuring a dozen, officials said. The bomber detonated his charge as the motorcade of the provincial governor, Asaddullah Khalid, drove through the streets of Kandahar city, said Dawood Ahmadi, the governor's spokesman".
"A World to Win News Service":
"When on 25 July US officials stated that 600 Taleban had been killed over the two past months, they simply kept silent about the more than 1,500 civilian killed so far this year, mainly by US bombardment. For example, Afghan member of Parliament Haji Abdul Khaliq Mujahid recounted how US and Australian troops last week opened fire on his family as they travelled by car from Uruzgan to the main hospital in Kandahar for a medical check-up. His brother-in-law was killed and five others were injured, including his wife and two of his children."
We found out about the accident because it was a member of the parliament who was attacked. From this, we can imagine with what contempt the occupation forces treat the lives of civilians in Afghanistan (see picture).
October 29, 2006, "The New York Times": "NATO and Afghan troops killed 70 suspected militants who attacked a military base in southern Afghanistan, while a roadside blast killed one NATO soldier and wounded eight others, the alliance said Sunday.
Some 100 to 150 militants attacked a military base north of Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan on Saturday, said Maj. Luke Knittig, a spokesman for the NATO-led force. The alliance and Afghan troops fought back for several hours with small arms fire, attack helicopters and airstrikes.
NATO's top commander apologized Saturday for civilian deaths caused by fighting between Taliban militants and NATO forces earlier in the week, but said insurgents endanger civilians by hiding among them.
His comments came four days after clashes between NATO-led troops and insurgents in the south that Afghan officials say killed 30 to 80 civilians, including women and children. NATO said its initial investigation found 12 civilians killed.
The 32,000-strong NATO-led force took command of security operations in Afghanistan last month...
On Friday, Karzai reiterated to reporters that he was ready to negotiate with Mullah Omar if the fugitive stops receiving support from neighboring Pakistan..."
Let's notice the increase in numbers: in 2003 - 10000 NATO soldiers in Afghanistan, in 2005 - 20000, in 2006 - 32000.
December 10, 2006, in an article "Chinooks sitting ducks for any Talib armed with a RPG" by Peter Almond, from Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, we read: "Nato claims that it killed 70 or 80 enemy fighters in a clash last week between Danish troops and Taliban 10 miles southwest of Musa Qala were ridiculed by villagers, who said the air raid called in by the Danes had killed two children and a large number of animals but no Taliban".
January 18, 2007, in "Global Terrorism Monitor" we read about Iranian involvement in Afghanistan: "Iran has been against the Talibanization of Afghanistan, but the presence of U.S. troops at its doorsteps has changed the direction of its foreign policy. Now, Tehran is willing to cooperate with different groups to reach the shared goal of defeating the United States in Afghanistan". Russia should line-up with Iran.
We read that relations between the regime in Tehran and Taliban have been strained, when the Talibs were in power :
"The relationship between Kabul and Tehran took a more serious hit when Taliban forces killed seven Iranian diplomats who were serving in Mazar-e-Sharif in August 1998. This Taliban action led Tehran to announce its open support for all forces that would resist the Taliban and to increase its activities to bring anti-Taliban factions together. The most notable act by Tehran was to allow the influential Pashtun leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, to be stationed in Iran."
"Iran is ready to cooperate and support any group, regardless of their religion and language, who can fight the U.S. presence in Afghanistan...
"Afghan analyst Amini proposes that the armed groups who have been sidelined by the current central regime in Afghanistan create potential forces for any outsider such as Iran to harness and influence. He specifically points out some of the commanders of the former Northern Alliance, as well as Shiite forces in central Afghanistan, who feel ignored by the new administration. One of these is Abdul Rashid Dostum who, according to Aina TV on November 25, 2006, met with Iranian Ambassador to Afghanistan Reza Bahrami on November 24, 2006. The influence of Iran on the charismatic Tajik leader Ismail Khan is already widely known".
So, behind the opposition of provincial warlords to the regime of Karzai we see the hand of Iran.
January 23, 2007, the AP reports that the US military is strained by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: "Defense Secretary Robert Gates earlier this month recommended that the Army's troop strength be increased by 65,000 soldiers, to a total of 547,000 worldwide and the Marines be increased by 27,000 to 202,000... training is focusing on the low-intensity, counterinsurgency battle being fought in Iraq". (Picture: U.S. convoy in Afghanistan, January 2007)
January 26, 2007 BBC radio says the U.S. calls for attention to be paid both to infrastructure of Afghanistan and military operations. Simply military operations will not win them Afghanistan.
January 28, 2007, KM.RU reports that Taliban threatens a massive attack in the spring:
"The United States is also preparing for a spring campaign in Afghanistan by sending in additional 2500 troops and alocating for defense of Afghanistan and rebuilding the country 10.6 billion dollars.
One of the leaders of Taliban, mullah Khayat Khan said this Saturday that Talibs plan to conduct massive attacks on Afghanistan this summer and for this purpose prepared 2000 suicide fighters.
In 2006 as a result of activity of Taliban, 4000 people were killed, one quarter of which are peaceful citizens".
27 February 2007 a suicide bomber blew himself up at Bagram Air Base, near Kabul. At this time, the Vice-President of the U.S., Dick Cheney, was there. However, he was 1 mile away from the site of the blast, while around 23 people were killed, and over 20 were wounded. Most of those who were hurt were Afghanis. Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and named the suicide bomber. On the photo: people outside the gates of Bagram Air Base are waiting to take the bodies of their relatives.
6 March 2007 NATO to the tune of 5500 troops started an offensive against Taliban in the Helmand province. In the province there is a strategically important hydroelectric dam which the occupiers pretend to repair.
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