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[P]
Taliban 'Abandon' Kabul -- What Now?

By wji in News
Wed Nov 14, 2001 at 01:50:39 PM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

Reports from several sources, apparently accurate, say that all Taliban forces have abandonded the capital of Kabul. The Northern Alliance now appears to be in control of most or all of the city. CNN and CBC have confirmed the story.

While the prospect of such a quick millitary victory seems attractive, it creates a potentially volatile political situation.


According to CBC news, the Taliban forces 'deserted' the city to the Northern Alliance. Alliance forces are said to be occupying key government buildings in the capital. As of yet, no shots have been heard in the city proper, leading many to believe it has indeed been surrendered without a fight.

U.S. officials had warned the Alliance not to enter the capital, fearing a repeat of the 1992 massacre of thousands which occured after the city was 'liberated'. An exiled Afghan prince said several weeks ago that the massacre was a result of 'turf war' as rival tribes attempted to stake claim to the important city. 'This is the result, ten years later,' he said.

According to some reports, executions and reprisals have already taken place in Mazar-e-Sharif and other recently fallen locations. Also, American talk of sending humanitarian aid overland has not yet materialized.

The apparent fall of Kabul has taken nearly everyone by surprise. The 'six plus two' group of Russia, China, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and the U.S. had met Monday at the United Nations to discuss the future of the country.

-------

I think there are several important points to discuss here on K5.

What are the Taliban up to? Why have they retreated so quickly from so much of the country? Are they simply routed, or are they attempting to consolidate their forces and over-extend the Northern Alliance?

Just how much of an 'Alliance' is the Northern Alliance? If and when the Taleban are out, will they turn on each other -- or on their masters?

Where is the UN? Is there a danger of more anarchy and repression in Afghanistan? Do we need a multinational peacekeeping force?

What about food? There may not be much time to get aid overland into the country. Some reports have suggested the Northern Alliance has looted aid trucks. Will the aid agencies be more able to work with the Alliance than with the Taliban?

What about the ultimate goals? What about bin Laden? Can he get away? If he can't, will he become a martyr? Will there be more terror attacks?

We can get 'the news' on other sites. But I'd like to see what people think about all this.

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Taliban 'Abandon' Kabul -- What Now? | 52 comments (40 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
Turn on the U.S.? (2.90 / 10) (#3)
by J'raxis on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 01:23:05 AM EST

Of course they’re going to turn on the United States, their “masters.” The United States, as you said, has warned them not to go into one of their own nation’s cities — it’s only a matter of time before they realize they’re being used as puppets and turn against America. Remember, the Taliban and bin Laden were once working for us (all these factions were part of the mujahadeen fighters) when it was Russia attacking Afghanistan.

— The Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]

not really a fair comment (3.75 / 4) (#18)
by theantix on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 11:52:15 AM EST

The United States, as you said, has warned them not to go into one of their own nation's cities -- it's only a matter of time before they realize they're being used as puppets and turn against America.
To be more fair, they actually did not go into Kabul for quite some time, when it seemed clear that they were itching to do so. They only entered when the Taliban completely left the city, and according to CNN the white house was "very pleased". It doesn't sound at all like they were turning against America... not at all.

That being said, it will be interesting to see if they will turn against the US now that they have control of the capital. However I strongly doubt this because they are still outmanned and outgunned by the Taliban if you don't include America. If the coalition partners can get a broad-based government setup in Kabul really really really quickly it will prevent a lot of problems from happening. Hopefully this will happen while the NA is still reliant on the US forces... otherwise your comment will likely be very accurate.

--
You sir, are worse than Hitler!
[ Parent ]

Diplomacy (3.16 / 6) (#21)
by ucblockhead on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 02:12:21 PM EST

Don't take the American comments at face value.

"Don't go in there" says the American government, knowing full well that they will. "See", they'll say later, "we don't control them".

Which will be mostly true.

"We don't control them" will play very well in the propaganda war. What the US really wants (regardless of what they say) is for muslims to be very obviously in control of Afghanistan as soon as possible.

The US has no desire to control Afghanistan. All they want is free passage so they can get to the particular people they want. You can bet that the "Northern Alliance" guys have agreements with them in that regard.

What a lot of people (including the Taliban) seem to be missing is that the US has no reason at all to try to do what Russia did. What they'll do instead is push for an "international" peacekeeping force, probably mostly made up of muslims, and for "negotiations". They won't really care what the results are. They'll be too busy rooting out Al Qaeda. And the Northern Alliance itself will be only to glad to let them do so as, to them, "Al Qaeda" is made up of foreign bastards that helped their enemies. Having American commandoes running around, rooting out Taliban hideouts only helps these Northern Alliance guys.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

U.S. in Afghanistan (2.20 / 5) (#30)
by J'raxis on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 05:25:49 PM EST

Of course the U.S. has interests to control (via a puppet government most likely) Afghanistan. You are aware of the vast oil reserves supposedly located there and the U.S.’s desires to build a pipeline through the nation, right? Here’s one article I’ve read discussing that; I’ve seen several others.

— The Cynical Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

Aware? (4.20 / 5) (#32)
by ucblockhead on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 05:49:29 PM EST

I'm aware of the leftist conspiracy theorists who say that this is the reason. I believe that it is utter crap.

There are plenty of obvious reasons for us being there without resorting to conspiracy theories.


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

OK... (2.75 / 4) (#33)
by J'raxis on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 06:02:07 PM EST

Conspiracy theorists or sources aside, do you deny that:
  • Bush and much of his cabinet have a vested interest in oil, and
  • The United States has been trying to negotiate, for some time, pipelines through neighbouring countries.
Put 2 + 2 together; you don’t need to listen to conspiracy theorists to use your own brain.

— The Obvious Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

Russia (4.50 / 6) (#34)
by ucblockhead on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 06:29:36 PM EST

They'd have an easier time getting at that oil simply by dealing with Russia.

In any case, there are lots more obvious reasons for what is happening than this "for oil" conspiracy theory. And the biggest problem with it is that, of course, the US pretty much ignored Afghanistan prior to 9-11.

Unfortunately, the radical left is too dumb to do anything but chant "for oil". There are plenty of conspiracy theories that make a hell of a lot more sense. The most obvious being that the purpose of these actions has nothing to do with "oil" and everything to do with distracting attention from and providing excuses for eroding civil liberties back home.

They do get close to the matter when they start talking about "US spheres of influence". It is fairly clear that the US is using this to expand their influence in the region (though not at the expense of China and Russia so much as in conjunction with them.)

Oil, in the end, is no where near as important as many people seem to make it out to be. Given the economics of it, access to more oil neither particularly helps nor hurts American oil companies, and in fact, the way to drive up American oil profits is to reduce access to oil. Oil supply goes down -> oil price goes up.

But truly their mistake is misunderstanding the driving force behind American foreign policy. The driving force behind American foreign policy is American elections, and that fully explains all the actions of the US government. The reason Bush and co. are embarking on bombing campaigns and commando missions is because not appearing to "do something" about the terrorists would cause catastrophic defeats in the congressional elections in '02 and the presidential elections in '04. That's what it is all about, political power, not "oil".
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

For oil. For oil. For oil. (4.66 / 3) (#38)
by linca on Wed Nov 14, 2001 at 08:28:30 AM EST

It is obvious the US oil companies would be better off dealing with the unstable, Nuclear Power, nearly anarchic Russia (see Chechnya). Which would take a fair amount of the oil before letting it out of the territory. And America's geostrategists would certainly love to depend on Russia for its oil supplies. Depending on the Arabs is annoying enough for them. The cost of building pipelines through the whole of Russia would be huge, too. And don't forget that the proud Russia is notas easy to puppet as Pakistan. Indeed Afghanistan was the only viable country for getting oil out of Kazakhstan and other central Asia countries, the other choices being Iran, China and Russia. So in the 90's the US and Pakistanese decided to have a stable government in place in Afghanistan. They chose to puppet the Taliban movement for this. So if the Taliban ever got power, that was for oil.

Now, of course the US is ousting the Taliban not only for oil. But that is a thought present in the back of their head. Why do you think the US cares so much about not giving all the power to the northen Alliance (which hates Pakistan)?.

Lastly, I don't think the US oil companies nor the US economy would like seeing oil prices go up. US as a whole is an oil buyer, and the oil companies make more money transforming oil than selling it raw.



[ Parent ]
You've got questions? (3.66 / 33) (#4)
by Mr. Piccolo on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 01:31:44 AM EST

I've got answers.

What are the Taliban up to?

Plan B.

Why have they retreated so quickly from so much of the country?

Because that's part of Plan B.

Are they simply routed, or are they attempting to consolidate their forces and over-extend the Northern Alliance?

Yes.

Just how much of an 'Alliance' is the Northern Alliance?

Enough of an alliance to be named The Northern Alliance.

If and when the Taleban are out, will they turn on each other -- or on their masters?

It depends.

Where is the UN?

In the UN Building.

Is there a danger of more anarchy and repression in Afghanistan?

It depends.

Do we need a multinational peacekeeping force?

Only if we need multinationals to keep the peace.

What about food?

It's necessary for human existence.

Will the aid agencies be more able to work with the Alliance than with the Taliban?

Maybe, maybe not.

What about the ultimate goals?

Like, for example, the cure for cancer, warp drive, world peace? Don't hold your breath.

What about bin Laden?

Haven't met the man.

Can he get away?

No, I think he'll have to skip winter vacation this year.

If he can't, will he become a martyr?

Only if he dies for his beliefs.

Will there be more terror attacks?

It depends.

So that's what I really think... really.

The BBC would like to apologise for the following comment.


Plan B (4.75 / 12) (#13)
by Happy Monkey on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 10:26:26 AM EST

What are the Taliban up to?

Plan B.

Why have they retreated so quickly from so much of the country?

Because that's part of Plan B.


Plan B:
1) Retreat from Kabul.
2) ?
3) Victory!
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
From Indie (2.00 / 2) (#36)
by On Lawn on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 09:10:13 PM EST

Plan B? I'm still working on plan A.

[ Parent ]
Plan B (4.75 / 8) (#15)
by finial on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 10:53:16 AM EST

Brian: "What is plan B?"
John: "Well, plan B, Brian, is basically plan A with an element of panic."
-- The Games

[ Parent ]
For a more optimistic opinion... (4.22 / 9) (#5)
by rebelcool on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 01:56:32 AM EST

Latest news (as of 1 am CST) says that northern alliance troops were welcomed by jubilant crowds and no resistance. It is unknown if the taliban were running away from a populist uprising or not....

The NA troops have pulled out of the city. They dont 'control' kabul. Nobody does. It's fair to say its pretty much anarchy for the moment. US has asked them to stay out a few days while a coalition government is worked out by the UN with the various tribes and factions.

I've always thought a UN overseen government, followed by elections, was a good way to go. At least in our day and age, the least corrupt method of putting a new government in somewhere. Lets just hope the UN does well, perhaps this means the beginning of the end of the afghans' long nightmare.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

If the new government doesn't gain Arab support .. (3.75 / 4) (#20)
by joegee on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 02:02:09 PM EST

My knee-jerk two cents:

The Taliban will replenish their losses with foreign recruits/support. I would like to see Jordanian/Turkish/Arab peacekeepers in Mazar and Kabul ASAP, and the 6+2 meetings held on Afghan soil.

For the U.S. to gain credibility and to demonstrate that it wants a regional solution that is best for Afghanistan I think decisions on the future of Afghanistan must be made in Afghanistan, preferably in Kabul, by Afghans and their neighbors.

To keep this from looking like an invasion I suspect the U.S. should not have a substantial ground troop/peacekeeping presence. The U.S. can lend logistical and financial support, but for the sake of legitimacy I think any peacekeeping/rebuilding force should be primarily derived from members of the Organization of Islamic States under the control of the U.N.

Isn't it convenient that the Taliban withdrew before Ramadan? I would like to see the U.S. issue a statement that they will be suspending air strikes in observance of Ramadan, on the condition that Taliban forces attempt no offensive military action. I don't think the Taliban will stop fighting, but this at least gives the U.S. the appearance of having tried to respect the holy month.

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
[ Parent ]
well... (3.40 / 5) (#22)
by rebelcool on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 02:13:44 PM EST

there are still several cities under taliban control. It is believed they may be planning a guerilla war... how well that work is unknown, given that they'd have to start fighting themselves as well as coalition forces.

The UN is working out a government based on the various tribes and ethnic groups of the country. Probably UN troops will be stationed there for awhile as peacekeepers, and aid bringers. Perhaps help rebuild the cities. And of course, keep the Taliban away.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

I would like to see Taliban moderates ... (3.50 / 4) (#28)
by joegee on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 04:37:29 PM EST

... included in the consensus interim government. It's obvious that many of the Afghan people have no great love for the Taliban radicals, but moderates probably should have a role in a coalition government. If all sides of the Afghan people are to be represented I suspect there almost must be a seat at the table of a future Afghan government for moderate Taliban Pashtuns.

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
[ Parent ]
Yes (4.00 / 5) (#39)
by linca on Wed Nov 14, 2001 at 08:51:29 AM EST

Of course when a dictatorship ends there must remain a place, immediatly, for those moderate supporters of the dictator. Like, in 1945, some Nazis should have had a voice in the German government. Like, there is not already enough different forces trying to get to power in Afghanistan, including some pashtoons already. Remember that the taliban do not represent an ethnic group only, but an opinion in how to direct the country, which is not exactly democratic. Much of the Northern Alliance is already fundamentalist (eg, Hekmatyar), the taliban, even moderate, being the extreme. "moderate taliban" is an oxymoron. Especially for a force made up of uneducated peasants and foreigners (the "Arabs"). The "moderate taliban" idea comes from Pakistan, and is a way for Pakistan to keep some power over Afghanistan. On the other hand, those tribe that allied with the taliban, hoping for stability and power, could be given a voice in future politics.

[ Parent ]
Retreat (4.33 / 6) (#10)
by Moneo on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 06:52:43 AM EST

What are the Taliban up to? Why have they retreated so quickly from so much of the country? Are they simply routed, or are they attempting to consolidate their forces and over-extend the Northern Alliance?

The Taliban's retreat is not surprising at all -- people familiar with Afghanistan expected precisely this sort of development. The Taliban are aware that they cannot survive a conventional war against the United States. The didn't drive the Soviet Union out by waging conventional war. Instead, they fall back into the mountains, from which they can effectively conduct a guerilla/terror campaign against a stationary army in Kabul, Kandahar, etc.
Propaganda plays the same role in a democracy as violence does in a dictatorship. -- Noam Chomsky

I wonder (4.40 / 5) (#11)
by Rand Race on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 09:09:50 AM EST

I agree with your interpretation of this event, it makes great tactical sense but I wonder at the wisdom of it from a strategic standpoint. The element the Taliban is missing that was present in the Soviet war is an invulnrable supply line. The Mujahadin in the war against Russia received high tech supplies of weaponry from the US whose factories were, obviously, immune to Russian attack. Similarly our own experience in Vietnam showed us how hard it is to defeat a nation whose supply lines, from Russia and China in this case, are not available to attack. Hell, the Taliban not only does not have an invulnrable supply line, they don't have any supply lines to industrial nations at all and virtualy no industry of their own. In a situation like this it should be feasable to block them into the mountains and starve them out if we can control the villages and thereby the food... if any.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

Guerilla War (4.66 / 6) (#17)
by wji on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 11:52:11 AM EST

>>

What are the Taliban up to? Why have they retreated so quickly from so much of the country? Are they simply routed, or are they attempting to consolidate their forces and over-extend the Northern Alliance?

>

The Taliban's retreat is not surprising at all -- people familiar with Afghanistan expected precisely this sort of development. The Taliban are aware that they cannot survive a conventional war against the United States. The didn't drive the Soviet Union out by waging conventional war. Instead, they fall back into the mountains, from which they can effectively conduct a guerilla/terror campaign against a stationary army in Kabul, Kandahar, etc.

I think you misunderstand the nature of guerilla war. Soldiers need supplies to survive - food, water, ammunition at minimum. Getting these supplies into Taleban forces in the mountains could not be done by truck, because of terrain and marauding aircraft. Getting those supplies in on foot is simply not practical. There is no Ho Chi Minh trail in Afghanistan, no friendly foreign government to pipe in supplies. And besides that - if the Taliban are just sitting in the mountains, how is that a problem for the Northern Alliance? The Alliance are more experienced than the Taleban in mountain fighting, they are being supplied and equipped by a superpower, not to mention getting air support from them, and they have Delta Force and the SAS to hold their hand in case they start feeling lonely. And, if they don't feel like fighting the Taliban -- so what? There isn't much of strategic value in the mountains. So, basically, what good does it do the Taliban to occupy unimportant areas with no supplies in terrain that plays into their enemy's strengths?

I might add that the news reports all seem to say that the Taliban forces are heading towards their spiritual center of Kandahar. Maybe they intend to make some kind of stand there, maybe they have just been so degraded and demoralized by the bombing that they are in headlong retreat. Or, maybe (although it does seem unlikely) they have larger strategic reasons for retreat, and they are hoping to play the Alliance factions against each other in a mad rush for territory. Will it happen? I don't know.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]

Well, not Ho Chi Minh but ... (none / 0) (#51)
by Kalani on Fri Nov 16, 2001 at 10:16:00 PM EST

... there's the Silk Trail and the little Opium Highway. The Taliban, being Pashtun, have supporters across the border in Pakistan. Even the tunnels they've got dug into the mountainside are pretty elaborate from what I've seen. Besides, who knows how much food they've got stockpiled for this purpose?

-----
"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
Driving the Soviets out (4.25 / 4) (#19)
by ucblockhead on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 01:57:05 PM EST

It needs to be remembered that "The Taliban" did not drive the Soviets out. A number of groups combined did, and those groups included both "The Taliban" and what is now refered to as "The Northern Alliance".
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Precision (3.66 / 3) (#41)
by linca on Wed Nov 14, 2001 at 09:04:26 AM EST

The Taliban did not appear as an organisation until '94, long after the communists, Russians or Afghan, had been beaten by the various 'Northern Alliance' organisations, which at the time were fighting among themselves for power. So the Taliban as a group did not participate in the ousting of te Soviets - though many of its fighters probably did.

[ Parent ]
What now? (3.50 / 12) (#14)
by jabber on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 10:44:22 AM EST

So the Taliban have, without a fight, left the Capitol of Afghanistan. Now what?

Personally, if I were the Taliban/ObL, I'd wait until all my Northern Alliance and US enemies are well inside the city, and then set off the big nuke burried in the sewers.

Beware sheiks bearing deserted cities.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Suuure.... (4.00 / 3) (#24)
by TheCaptain on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 02:40:28 PM EST

Slight logic problem.

When the city gets nuked with quite a number of your own civilians in it...your put in a pretty bad position. He won't be an "honored guest" for long. He'd probably kill many times more Muslims than that little incident in New York, if a nuclear weapon was used. The Taliban's abandonment of Kabul doesn't mean it's an empty city.

Reality check.

Then again...I don't believe he has nukes either. He's playing that as a card, because he knows that the use of a nuke has been debated by his enemies - A nuclear bomb detonated underground would make short work of their caves they seem to like hiding in. (They do have uses other than being dropped on cities...) He's said that he would only use a nuclear weapon in response if the U.S. used one first. Very convienient.

[ Parent ]
Off the deep end (3.25 / 4) (#37)
by jabber on Wed Nov 14, 2001 at 04:41:40 AM EST

Are you suggesting that bin Laden would not gladly lay down the lives of Afghan citizens for his cause? Surely, they would be seen as a necessary sacrifice in the War against the infidel. Allah would sort them out after all. If ObL's intent is to provoke the US into a full-out military commitment, poisoning the well by nuking Kabul, would be an effective way of doing it.

(They do have uses other than being dropped on cities...)

Really? no kidding..

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Umm....what? (3.66 / 3) (#42)
by TheCaptain on Wed Nov 14, 2001 at 01:10:41 PM EST

If ObL's intent is to provoke the US into a full-out military commitment, poisoning the well by nuking Kabul, would be an effective way of doing it.

I am somewhat curious as to what the hell you think the U.S. and allies are doing over there right now? What do you classify as a "full-out military commitment"?

Seriously...even beyond that...another reality check. Kabul is the home to millions of people. If even 10% of them are in the city for his imaginary nuke, the death toll would be in the hundreds of thousands, (or at least the tens of thousands, depending on the yield of the weapon), with ALOT of others glowing in the dark from the fallout. All of that, to go after the 3,000 or so Nothern Alliance troops that are there as a security force, and maybe a handful of Americans??? (Pakistan is demanding that the Alliance should not occupy Kabul...they'd rather have a multinational peacekeeping force in place, which is probably something the the U.N.'s hands. I am guessing that will be happening in the not so distant future...but I don't have a crystal ball.)

Seriously...I don't know what your mental picture of this situation is, but we didn't just march a million troops in there, ripe for the slaughter. Actually, there are very few Americans on the ground in Afghanistan at all.

Really? no kidding..

Nope.

[ Parent ]
Strategy vs tactics (none / 0) (#46)
by jabber on Thu Nov 15, 2001 at 07:35:38 AM EST

I don't think you understand.

If ObL has a nuke in Kabul (and that is a hypothetical, and very large IF) then it's use would not be a tactical military maneuver. Instead, it would serve to refuse Kabul to the Americans and opponents of the Taliban in relative perpetuity - "If I can't have it, no one can".

Further, it would escalate the conflict significantly, from airborne bombing and a handful of troops to nuclear scale. This would not only cause the West to really believe that they are fighting for their lives, but also make all local nuclear powers very nervous.

Pakistan and India are already a dangerous combination. Add China, Russia, possibly Iraq, and you have an extremely dangerous context, all of which surrounds the world's primary source of petrol.

If ObL were to set off a nuke in Kabul, it would certainly not be as a tactic to kill a few dozen NATO soldiers and a few thousand Islam moderates.. It would be a strategic move. It could only be made more beneficial to his cause if he were to make it look like an American action.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Kaboul is not the capital of the Talibans (4.50 / 2) (#40)
by linca on Wed Nov 14, 2001 at 08:59:44 AM EST

I don't know much about the Talibans, but it seems to me whatever kind of centralised government they had was directed from Kandahar rather that Kabul. The Northern Alliance has alwas had troups less than 20 miles from there, which does not make for a strong position ; and the fundamentalists Talibans never like that town, which was too modern for their taste. Its importance was rather in its strategic location.

[ Parent ]
Seconded, and other scary ideas.. (none / 0) (#43)
by Highlander on Wed Nov 14, 2001 at 05:21:44 PM EST

Yea well, oBL talked about nukes .. .

So, assume the Taliban withdrew "orderly" then they might have buried a nuke to set a trap in some city - this would be scary.

On the other hand, if they don't possess one: What if the Taliban that is running south decides to keep running south and go into Pakistan to get nukes ?

Well, I guess the big guys know that the Taliban is really broken and that winter will come before the Taliban can move south, so the above paragraphs are needless worries.

IMHO, the Pope and some mullah's should declare The Ban and a Fatwa on the use of ABC weapons. After all, a virus can't spot righteous faith.

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.
[ Parent ]

Guarder optimism, fear of mess to come (4.60 / 5) (#26)
by pavlos on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 03:19:06 PM EST

Well, here I am, annoying US-flaming left liberal hippie type, being happy whith what the US has achieved so far. I did say I'd be overjoyed if the Taliban were removed, and I am, as I'm sure many Afghans would be. Frankly I'm amazed that the Taliban pulled out of Kabul so early.

Optimism, however, is short-lived. By all accounts, the Northern Alliance are as repressive and murderous as the Taliban were. Also, the US does have a record of establishing and supporting brutal dictatorships that dutifully protect US interests but fiercely suppress their own population. Let's hope that the American public remembers all the recent (accurate) "The Taliban are evil", "They oppress women", media blitz and demands that the new US-sponsored government exploits its population in a civilized way, without doing these things.

Pavlos

Pray tell.. (3.50 / 2) (#44)
by Dee Kaos on Wed Nov 14, 2001 at 05:43:23 PM EST

exploits its population in a civilized way, without doing these things.

How should they exploit their population?
Dee Kaos

[ Parent ]

Politely (5.00 / 2) (#48)
by pavlos on Thu Nov 15, 2001 at 10:19:48 AM EST

For example, the new Afghan government could ensure that the US gets whatever preferential deals they wish to get with oil or gas infrastructure, accepts unregulated American investment without demanding free access to American mineral markets, allows them to pollute the environment and ignore labor laws, etc.

This is the "development" model being pursued by the west in most of the third world. While it exploits the population and creates some suffering, it is a huge improvement over the brutality and suppression of the Taliban.

Pavlos

[ Parent ]

Do you really mean that? (none / 0) (#49)
by epepke on Fri Nov 16, 2001 at 09:57:54 AM EST

By all accounts, the Northern Alliance are as repressive and murderous as the Taliban were.

I see this kind of statement all the time (although it's usually to assert that the U.S. is just as oppressive as the Taliban). Do you really mean it, or is it some sort of rhetoric?

The Northern Alliance are by no means a bunch of Nice Guys by American standards. However, yesterday's paper carried a photograph of a young woman who was outside with her face exposed in the sunlight for the first time in five years.

Do you really assert that there is no difference between the repressiveness of letting women walk freely in public versus whipping them if they don't wear exactly the right clothes?

If so, I'd like to know how you arrive at that conclusion. If not, then saying that they are just as repressive may be counterproductive. It isn't particularly likely that a group that would make us all happy is just going to magically appear in Afghanistan.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
you twisted the words a bit (none / 0) (#50)
by mikpos on Fri Nov 16, 2001 at 12:04:10 PM EST

Don't confuse equality with sameness. Being "as" repressive does not mean being repressive in the same way. Just because they let women show their faces, doesn't mean they're not just as repressive. Maybe they prohibit men from using furniture or something.

Yes, by the last example, how can you tell I really don't know much about the Northern Alliance? :) I can't say whether or not they are as repressive as the Taliban, but by all accounts they're not angels, as you say. And, it's true, the US does have a very, very bad habit of putting dictators into power. Either the US has a very strange definition of "long-term" or for some reason they actually believe the fallacious mantra "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".

[ Parent ]

I don't think I'm twisting the words (none / 0) (#52)
by epepke on Sat Nov 17, 2001 at 05:29:07 PM EST

It did occur to me that someone might think that they were as repressive, but in a different way. However, I've never actually seen anybody claim that, let alone argue how. It isn't my job to guess what it is that he means; it's his job, if he should choose to accept it. Until then, it's just a bald, handwaving statement of the kind I think obscures rather than reveals.

My vew of the Northern Alliance is that they probably are less repressive than the Taliban. That doesn't mean that they're nice people, or even that it would be a good thing for them to be in power instead. Even if they are repressive, they're new and are therefore probably less efficient and competent.

Others have cautioned that there is still a civil war going on. This might be a good thing. A state of chaos might be better for the people and the rest of the world than a static regime. It would prevent at least the appearance of a unified front, for one thing.

Also, don't discount the power of small things, like feeling sunlight on one's face for the first time. The small things in life are often more powerful than the eternal verities.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Well if you are an Afghan living in Kabul ... (3.30 / 10) (#29)
by joegee on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 05:03:50 PM EST

... a "victim" of the Western campaign of "genocide", according to the news reports I have read apparently you go to the barber if you're a man, to a place of worship if you're a woman, or play music in your shop if you're a shop owner. Oh, and if you're a foreign national who was fighting in support of the Taliban from what I hear you quickly make your peace with God and go collect on those sixty-some virgins.

Obviously the majority of Afghan people in Mazar and Kabul are in a state of deep mourning at the loss of their beloved Taliban.

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
Civil war (4.70 / 10) (#35)
by ucblockhead on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 08:24:46 PM EST

People seem to be forgetting that Afghanistan is smack in the middle of a civil war. In civil wars, generally the bulk of the population is just trying to "get by" and is likely to either welcome or ignore either side as they appear. A lot of people have been acting as if the Taliban was something that the Afghani people wholeheartedly supported. Were that really true, there'd be no anti-Taliban "northern alliance" in the first place.

I'm sure that there were pro-Taliban citizens in Kabul. They are likely either dead, running with the Taliban, or hoping their neighbors have forgotten their political positions.

The trouble is that people are associating this with a superpower-engineered civil war, like Vietnam or the original Russian intrusion into Afghanistan. It is not any such case, though, but is a real, honest-to-God civil war.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

My guestimations (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by vastor on Wed Nov 14, 2001 at 11:03:27 PM EST

I think the Taliban have just done what is sensible. It's small scale guerilla warfare against occupied forces which is where they're on level playing fields. Having to protect occupied territory leaves you very vulnerable to the type of bombing that is going on (front lines are front lines - you don't have anywhere near the flexibility in placing forces as if you're moving over a vast area of territory).

Plus trying to defend 90% of the country requires a thin spread of forces. By abandoning a chunk (all? The media isn't really saying how much of Afghanistan will still be Taliban controlled), it will have the Northern Alliance become much more thinly spread (which had been bottled up in 10% of the country which was ethnically loyal to them).

Even just giving the Northern Alliance 30% of the country means that they'll be spread much more thinly before and make it possible for the Taliban to develop some kind of progress again. It needs a war of attrition where it isn't the one losing out (which would have been the case with the US and Russia behind the Northern Alliance).

If the Taliban leader is politically minded, moving in to a more defensible position also means that he may maneuver in to a better position to form a power sharing gov't of some kind (pure speculation). In the meantime however, by abandoning the cities the Taliban forces will be less vulnerable to attack and in better positions to even out the war of attrition by killing the enemies. Also, by letting the Northern Alliance move in and potentially remind the population why they cheered when they were driven out, it may resecure the popular support of the Taliban (it'll be interesting to see if the Nothern Alliance is sufficiently restrained to stop this from happening, they were natorious for horrible reprisals when taking back a city in the past - which is a useful thing to remember, this war has been going on for a long time and it no doubt isn't the first time that the Northern Alliance has experienced some gains in territory only to lose it again).

But this is guesswork. Time will tell - perhaps the Taliban is collapsing (the rats abandoning the sinking ship), perhaps it is regrouping. With winter approaching perhaps they just had a hard look at their forces, decided what could be easily held throughout the winter and got on with abandoning the rest while the weather was still good. This is a war we're largely being kept ignorant about, atleast with political guesses we have half a chance about the motives, with military strategy we're relatively clueless what their goals may be.

It may be worth keeping in mind that in the Korean war, things raged right across the country as the North almost won and then the South with US support almost won. At this stage it's hard even to be sure whether the Northern Alliance or the Taliban are the good guys.


Military victory is not assured (5.00 / 1) (#47)
by sera on Thu Nov 15, 2001 at 08:41:53 AM EST

The fairly credible intelligence outfit StartFor does not believe that the Taliban has surrendered or lost; it believes the Taliban has made a strategic withdrawal. Important points from the StratFor paper:
  1. As Northern Alliance troops moved into Kabul, they met almost no resistance: Taliban forces are too hardened to have given up so easily.
  2. Afghanistan is an entirely different theater of warfare than, say, Europe: The population is scattered across a vast countryside, settled in small villages. Such a context makes hit-and-run guerrila tactics more desirable than holding a front line.
  3. Rapid advances are the norm in Afghanistan. Russia's initial invasion of Afghanistan took only a few weeks, and we know how well that war went.
Of course, you won't hear this from the U.S. media; their "reporters" are far too dependent on government sources to actually offer any critical thinking. But if StratFor is correct, celebrating a victory over the Taliban may be quite premature.

firmament.to: Every text is an index.

Taliban 'Abandon' Kabul -- What Now? | 52 comments (40 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
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