Afghanistan – behind enemy lines
James Fergusson returns after three years to Chak, just 40 miles from Kabul, to find the Taliban’s grip is far stronger than the West will admit
Independent, 14 November 2010
The sound of a propeller engine is audible the moment my fixer and I climb out of the car, causing us new arrivals from Kabul to glance sharply upwards. I have never heard a military drone in action before, and it is entirely invisible in the cold night sky, yet there is no doubt what it is. My first visit to the Taliban since 2007 has only just begun and I am already regretting it. What if the drone is the Hellfire-missile-carrying kind?
Three years ago, the Taliban’s control over this district, Chak, and the 112,000 Pashtun farmers who live here, was restricted to the hours of darkness – although the local commander, Abdullah, vowed to me that he would soon be in full control. As I am quickly to discover, this was no idle boast. In Chak, the Karzai government has in effect given up and handed over to the Taliban. Abdullah, still in charge, even collects taxes. His men issue receipts using stolen government stationery that is headed “Islamic Republic of Afghanistan”; with commendable parsimony they simply cross out the word “Republic” and insert “Emirate”, the emir in question being the Taliban’s spiritual leader, Mullah Omar.
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The attached article was brought to my attention by a highly-educated, well-read medical doctor of Pashtun descent now living in the UK. It should be studied closely and ought to be mandatory reading in the White House, before the President gets stampeded by McChrystal debacle, the accession of General Petraeus, and his fellow travelers in the War Party (Democrats as well as Republicans) into backing away from President Obama’s withdrawal deadline.
Why the Taliban is winning in Afghanistan By William Dalrymple – New Statesman – 22/06/2010 http://www.newstatesman.com/international-politics/2010/06/british-afghanistan-government
As Washington and London struggle to prop up a puppet government over which Hamid Karzai has no control, they risk repeating the blood- soaked 19th-century history of Britain’s imperial defeat. In 1843, shortly after his return from Afghanistan, an army chaplain, Reverend G R Gleig, wrote a memoir about the First Anglo-Afghan War, of which he was one of the very few survivors. It was, he wrote, “a war begun for no wise purpose, carried on with a strange mixture of rashness and timidity, brought to a close after suffering and disaster, without much glory attached either to the government which directed, or the great body of troops which waged it. Not one benefit, political or military, has Britain acquired with this war.
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