Monday, November 27, 2006

Remember Tarin Kowt

Lost in the leftover Turkey in the US press - Radio Netherlands (in English) reminds us of the battle that defeated the Taliban five years ago.
But why Tarin Kowt, a desolate small town in a desolate region? Well, for one thing, many of the Taliban leaders had their roots in the town or places nearby. Second, Hamid Karzai was a respected tribal leader or Khan from one of Uruzgan's Pashtun tribes - and he knew he had supporters in the town. Major Amerine explains:
"In Karzai's words, Tarin Kowt was the heart of the Taliban. He believed that if we could seize Tarin Kowt, we'd rip out the heart of the Taliban movement." "And in the end, I think that is what proved to be true. Tarin Kowt was really so important in a symbolic sense, that by seizing Tarin Kowt, the Taliban movement lost its credibility in the Pashtun tribal belt. And ultimately, on December 8, the Taliban finally surrendered Kandahar to us".
But before that happened, the 'Battle of Tarin Kowt' still had to be won.
Sigh: once again I have to send you to PBS's Frontline.
At Tarin Kowt, the 11 members of U.S. Special Forces A-team 574, with a few dozen Afghani fighters, called in airstrikes to defeat a convoy of hundreds of Taliban forces on their way to attack the village where Hamid Karzai was based. It was a pivotal battle, and a crushing psychological blow for the Taliban. Team Captain Jason Amerine tells the story and Lt. Col. David Fox analyzes the battle's significance.

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