Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Behind enemy lines with the Taliban of Helmand

This report reveals how troubled the situation is in the south and east, the Pushtun areas. Note the sense that the "white faces" worry them by invading homes. The Soviets had a much weaker footprint in these areas for much of the period they were at war in Afghanistan. Anyway, not promising news for this part of the country. Reports from the north are different. I have begun to wonder if Afghanistan might be split into two parts by the growing strength of the Taliban in the Pushtun areas.

Independent (UK)

"three members of the Taliban waging war on British troops in Afghanistan tell Chris Sands why they feel they have no choice but to take up arms against the 'foreign invaders'"
"The insurgents' description of life in their home province was far removed from the version Downing Street and Nato officials are keen to promote. As far as these men are concerned, any soldier with a white face is a 'foreigner'. There are no differences between the various countries that make up the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).They spoke of villagers too scared to switch on their lights at night in case their homes are bombed in air strikes; troops deliberately shooting civilians; and members of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance using their new roles in the Afghan army to persecute the Pashtun population."
" 'Everyone has picked up a gun. What else can we do? We cannot bear it any more. When the foreigners first came we thought maybe they wanted to build the country, but what have they done in the last five years?They have done nothing so we have to stand against them. They have killed innocent people, occupied the country and now jihad is demanded of us.' "
" 'We have to fight because even if we don't we will be killed' "
"A recent survey by the Senlis Council think-tank found 80 per cent of men in Helmand and Kandahar believe the international troops are not helping them personally, while 71 per cent believe the Afghangovernment is also unhelpful"
"Ghulam ... is from Lashkar Gah, Helmand, and, like the other two Talibs, he describes the situation in the province as unbearable.'The worst time I have experienced in my life is now,' he said. 'It's worse than when the Russians were here. The Russians treated us well,they never went into our houses. Now the foreigners go into houses,disturb the women and kill innocent people.' "

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