Monday, June 16, 2008

Afghanistan's Arghandab District and the Taliban: More Than a Spot of Trouble

Over in Afghanistan, a bunch of "militants" have taken over some villages in the southeastern part of the country. Some news reports are cautiously admitting that there might be a connection between the Taliban jailbreak some days ago and today's actions:
  • "Taliban fighters take over several Afghan villages" (June 16, 2008)
    • "...NATO spokesperson Mark Laity said NATO and Afghan military officials are sending troops to the district to 'meet any potential threats.'
    • "Laity seemed to link the jailbreak with the Taliban push into Arghandab.
    • " 'It's fair to say that the jailbreak has put a lot of people (rebels) into circulation who weren't there before, and so obviously you're going to respond to that potential threat,' he said...."
      [emphasis mine]
Other news services are a little more up-front with what's happening:
  • "Taliban fighters take over several Afghan villages near Kandahar city"
    The Calgary Sun (June 16, 2008)
    • "KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Taliban fighters swarmed the doorstep of Afghanistan’s second-largest city Monday, bombing small bridges and scattering landmines to keep Canadian and international troops at bay.
    • "The president of the Kandahar provincial council and brother of President Hamid Karzai said the rebels claimed a handful of villages and were rumoured to be seeking a bigger target: Kandahar city.
    • "Canadian soldiers, U.S. special forces, and the Afghan army were deployed to the area to keep them from advancing, said Ahmed Wali Karzai. But landmines and bombed-out culverts stood in NATO’s path, he said.
    • "Karzai said rebels had nabbed control of several villages along the Arghandab district - just next door to Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban....
  • "Hundreds of Taliban occupy Afghan villages"
    CNN (June 16, 2008)
    • "KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Hundreds of Taliban fighters have taken over several villages in the same southern Afghanistan province where about 400 Taliban militants recently escaped from prison, local officials and police said.
    • "About 400 to 500 Taliban militants were seen streaming into the Arghandab district of the Kandahar province late Sunday night on motor bikes and pickup trucks, said Haji Aka Jan, a tribal elder in the district.
    • "Abdul Wali Karzai, younger brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and head of the provincial council, also said a large number of militants entered the district, and Afghan and NATO forces were preparing to come into the area.
    • "Reports varied on how many villages were taken. Taliban fighters have taken at least 5 villages and could have taken as many as 13, locals said.
    • "The villages area is about 20 km (12 miles) north of Kandahar, a former stronghold for the Taliban, and close to the prison escape....

Taliban or Not, Does the Fate of Arghandab Matter?

Yes. Certainly to the people living there. And, sooner or later, it will matter to people living in Indonesia, Kenya, and Minnesota.

The Taliban, and the other jihandist Islamic groups, have demonstrated that they're not particularly tolerant of those who don't follow their flavor of Islam exactly. Back when the Taliban was in charge, Afghanistan lost the Bamiyan Buddhas, and other irreplaceable archaeological treasures, when the big Taliban boss, Mullah Mohammed Omar, said that all 'idolatrous' images should be destroyed.

The Taliban weren't any easier on people they didn't approve of.

There Isn't Any Real Threat, Right?

It wouldn't take too much effort to look at the situation in Arghandab as a matter for local law enforcement to take care of: Just
  • Ignore a tribal elder's story that "400 to 500 Taliban militants were seen streaming into the Arghandab district of the Kandahar province late Sunday night on motor bikes and pickup trucks"
  • Forget about the terrain
  • Don't mention the enemy's habits
  • Dismiss what's at stake as some sort of plot by Big Oil, or some other bogey man
If this bunch of Islamic enthusiasts gets a foothold in Afghanistan, there's a chance they could take over again.

That doesn't seem all that unlikely, given the terrain there. "A tribal leader from the region warned that the militants could use the cover from Arghandab's grape and pomegranate orchards to mount an attack on the provincial capital itself.

" 'All of Arghandab is made of orchards. The militants can easily hide and easily fight,' said Haji Ikramullah Khan. ("Taliban fighters take over several Afghan villages near Kandahar city" The Calgary Sun (June 16, 2008))

Plus, there's the charming habit that Islamic terrorists have of using civilians for cover.

" 'It is extremely difficult to chase these guys out of the villages when they are not wearing uniforms that say "I am the Taliban," ' MacDonald1 said. 'They can just put down their guns and blend in. NATO may have to decide to bomb and that could bring civilian casualties.' " ("Hundreds of Taliban occupy Afghan villages" CNN (June 16, 2008))

In the (I trust unlikely) event that Afghanistan falls back into the hands of the Taliban, radical Muslims will have regained a major base of operations. For people who have gotten used to allowing their women to get groceries without an escort, and not do exactly what their imam tells them to, the world that the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and similar organizations have in mind wouldn't be very pleasant.

I harangued a bit about this, in "International Law Under a Global Caliphate: Think About It" (October 10, 2007).

Although the most serious changes under the rule of radical Islam's notion of sharia law would be social, like removing women from the voting roles and enforcing a no-trousers policy for men, America would lose some landmarks, too.

It's hard to believe that the Caliph of America would allow blasphemous images to remain in his domain: like the

Yes, Arghandab Matters

It's not considered 'tolerant' to say things like this, but the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and like-minded jihadist Muslims are doing bad things. They very likely will continue to do bad things on a larger and larger scale, until they are stopped by force. And, it will be easier to stop them before they re-establish their old bases, and create new ones.

Related post:

"Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Taliban, Diplomacy, and Common Sense"
(June 16, 2008)
1 Norine MacDonald is the Senlis Council's president: The Senlis Council is a think tank based in the Kandahar province.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.