Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The sober view from AFG

The US cavalry is coming; faster please.
“We're seeing history repeat itself,” said Haroun Mir, co-founder of the Afghanistan Centre for Research and Policy Studies and a former aide to Ahmad Shah Massoud, the assassinated Mujahidin commander. “The Taleban's trying to cut the main roads to Kabul to target supplies for foreign forces, just like the Mujahidin did with the Soviets. If the highways are cut even for two days, it could also create riots in the city.”

Kabul is vulnerable to blockades because it is surrounded by mountains and has to ship in supplies on three roads leading north, east and southwest. The British learnt this the hard way during the siege of Kabul in 1841, documented by Lady Florentia Sale in A Journal of the Disasters in Afghanistan. “Khojeh Meer says that he has no more grain,” she wrote on December 3, 1841. “He also says that the moolahs have been to all the villages and laid the people under ban not to assist the English and that consequently the Mussulman population are as one man against us.” A month later, the British began their retreat from Kabul.

In the 1980s it was Soviet forces encircled in Kabul by the Mujahidin. They withrew in 1989. In 1996 the Taleban took Kabul after capturing Wardak and Jalalabad and blockading the capital. Isaf, the International Security Assistance Force, says that circumstances are different today: it has superior air support and logistics to the Soviets and the Taleban. The militants, though, have experience on their side, thanks to former Mujahidin commanders who have blockaded Kabul before.


Here is what is going on around Kabul, not unrelated to what the French ran into last week.
Ismatullah stood at the crossroads in the dusty Afghan town of Maidan Shah, squinted in the blinding noon sun and stroked his long, grey beard. 'What the governor said in our meeting was very good,' he said diplomatically. 'He quoted the Koran very correctly. But I am not sure how much power he has. Now I am going home - and the Taliban control my district, not him.'

The tribal elder lives only a few miles from Maidan Shah, in a part of Afghanistan which, until a few months ago, was considered under the authority of President Hamid Karzai's central government.
Both articles are well worth your read. We have a lot of work still to do in AFG. NATO, sadly, politically and therefor militarily culminated last winter ... this will be up to the USA to win with help from the Brits and other auxilliaries where they can.

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