Article on Current Situation Within Afghanistangreenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
It appears the Tuliban government is crumbling.
October 4, 2001
ON THE MOVE Reports Swirl Out of Afghanistan of Panic and Taliban Defections By JOHN F. BURNS
Agence France-Presse Each day, 300 to 500 Afghan refugees cross the border into northwestern Pakistan at Ghaky Pass as fears grow of an attack by the United States.
Anticipation in Pakistan
Refugees: Afghans Are 'Looking at the Sky, Watching' (October 4, 2001)
The Taliban Arsenal
A look at some of the Taliban's military equipment.
INFANTRY The army has an estimated 45,000 men.
ARMOR Aging and worn by use in difficult terrain, there are questions as to the condition of the Taliban's fighting vehicles. They are estimated to have about 100 tanks, including T-62's, and about 250 armored fighting vehicles.
ARTILLERY In addition to truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers, the Taliban have about two hundred operational artillery pieces, the most powerful components of their specialized arms cache.
AIR FORCE Reports suggest that the Taliban are operating about 10 Su-22 and about 10 MiG-21 fighter jets. It also has armed trainers and an assortment of about 10 helicopters.
Source: Jane's Information Group
The New York Times
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- SLAMABAD, Pakistan, Oct. 3 — The Taliban's top Islamic clerics have left their headquarters in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar to escape the risk of American bombing, and other senior Taliban officials have fled to Pakistan or sent their families across the border as refugees, according to reliable accounts reaching Pakistan.
Other accounts depict gathering panic among the population and the disappearance from major cities of many Taliban soldiers and policemen, and raise the possibility of a mass defection by Taliban fighters.
The accumulating signs could indicate the beginning of a wider disintegration of Taliban power. But because the reports are scattered, and in some cases from refugees arriving in Pakistan who are hostile to the Taliban, it is uncertain whether the Taliban are starting to break up as a governing force or are regrouping for a guerrilla war.
A top official of the anti-Taliban alliance based in northern Afghanistan said today that dozens of senior Taliban officers commanding as many as 10,000 troops might be willing to switch loyalties, some of them based in key provinces.
"They are willing to change sides today or wait until something starts and then coordinate their efforts with us," said the official, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who is nominally the foreign minister of the Northern Alliance. "It's quite possible there will be a popular uprising in Kabul before we can move forces into Kabul."
He also claimed to have received pledges of continuing support from Iran and Russia, and to have held his first meeting with American officials. "We are discussing every aspect of the present situation and cooperation," he said, without disclosing the meeting's location.
The alliance, which has fought a long and losing war against the Taliban, has a reputation for exaggerating its claims. There was no way to tell whether Dr. Adbullah was overstating the extent to which Taliban fighters could be tempted into a mass defection — a development that would dramatically alter the strategic landscape in the country. Other alliance commanders suggested Dr. Abdullah was making exaggerated claims.
But the statements together with the flurry of reports that have leaked out of the isolated country in the past 48 hours — from Afghan cities hundreds of miles apart, as well as from provincial towns that have been fortresses of Taliban power — suggest that tensions building since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States are reaching a breaking point.
With the Taliban leaders refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden, named by the United States as the "prime suspect" in the attacks, many within the Taliban's ranks appear to have concluded that war with the United States is inevitable.
United Nations officials and refugees say looting of shops and homes has begun. In Kandahar, Taliban fighters have stormed into a United Nations compound and driven off with vehicles used in an American- financed program that has been disarming millions of land mines left over from the guerrilla war against Soviet forces in the 1980's. Shops in the capital, Kabul, as well as in Kandahar and the eastern city of Jalalabad have emptied of food.
On the streets of all three cities the religious police — notorious for beating women for the most trivial offenses against the Taliban's repressive social codes — are reported to have virtually disappeared.
Intelligence agents have burst into homes and arrested anyone who so much as mentions the name of Mohammad Zahir Shah, the exiled Afghan king who has emerged as a possible figurehead for a post-Taliban government, according to some reports.
Religious schools that have indoctrinated young Taliban fighters have been closed, and the students sent off to be inducted into the army. But many have joined the flood of refugees heading for Pakistan, only to be pulled from their families at gunpoint and pressed into service in the Taliban's front-line units.
Alongside such accounts, claims by the Northern Alliance of large numbers of front-line Taliban field commanders being prepared to defect had echoes elsewhere.
In another region crucial to Taliban power, along Afghanistan's eastern border with Pakistan, Taliban commanders in three key provinces that control the southern approaches to Kabul — Paktika, Paktia and Logar — were reported today to have been in contact with opposition groups that have come together in a loose alliance against the Taliban.
According to officials in Pakistan's military intelligence agency, mostly tribal chiefs have shown "some interest" in defecting to the new alliance on condition that it be led by the exiled Zahir Shah.
These reports, if true, would explain why the Taliban's supreme leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, has directed several of his diatribes in recent days against the 86-year- old former king, warning him to live out his life in exile in Rome, where he has lived since 1973. Anybody who supports the king or any other anti- Taliban movement, Mullah Omar said in a radio address today, "will be accused of treason," an offense punishable by death.
Perhaps the most striking account coming out of Afghanistan, given tonight in a satellite telephone call from an Afghan reporter inside Afghanistan, said that Mullah Omar had left Kandahar for an undisclosed location along with other top Taliban officials and military commanders.
The reporter, who has close ties to the Taliban, said the move was being seen by Taliban loyalists as emblematic of Mullah Omar's wiliness as an old anti-Soviet guerrilla fighter girding for the new "holy war" he has proclaimed against American forces. "People see it as a sign of his skill," the reporter said.
But other Afghans who have reached Pakistan greeted the development as a sign that the Taliban, always more of a fanatical religious movement than a functioning government, and with only rudimentary communications in the cities and virtually none outside them, could quickly become leaderless — or at least incapable of leading — under the pounding of an American attack.
In this view, Mullah Omar, in quitting Kandahar, was leaving ordinary Afghans to face a fate brought on them by the Taliban, one he was not prepared to face himself.
"They are hated, hated for what they have done to women, hated for the fear they have spread, hated for the hunger they have brought to people, hated for the way they have distorted Islam, hated for making Afghanistan a base for people like bin Laden who have brought so much misery around the world," one Afghan with relatives still in Kabul said when he heard the news of Mullah Omar's quitting Kandahar today. "So is it it any surprise that they are crumbling now?"
In any case, these Afghans said, there were growing signs that Mullah Omar, whose medieval brand of Islam has never sat easily with more modern elements within the Taliban, may no longer be in effective political control of the Taliban, much less able to lead it into war.
These signs, they said, pointed to increasing restiveness, or even active dissent, from other Taliban officials who have concluded that war with the United States would obliterate the Taliban and bring new suffering to Afghanistan.
Today the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television broadcast what it said was a new call for a holy war against America by Mullah Omar, who demanded that rich Muslims worldwide pay for it. "Merchants and owners of capital, your prime duty is to spend in the way of God," he said.
At the same time, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan, gave a remorseful interview to CNN that sounded like a last, desperate plea for America not to attack, appealing more strongly than ever for evidence of Mr. bin Laden's culpability and suggesting circumstances in which the terrorist suspect could be handed over.
"This event was very, very bad and very disastrous to the American people, and we condemned that before," Mullah Zaeeef said, adding that "handover is the other option."
"We want that, if Osama bin Laden is involved in this action and if this action was a terrorist action," he said. "We know this was un-Islamic and this was a very, very dangerous action and we condemn that. If Osama bin Laden is involved in this action we need to do something."
-- Ken S. in WC TN (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 04, 2001
I copied this from www.drudgereport.com - WORLD Pakistan's frontier with Afghanistan
Cry for help as killer virus spreads across the border
The largest outbreak in history of a highly contagious disease that causes patients to bleed to death from every orifice has been confirmed on Pakistan's frontier with Afghanistan.
At least 75 people have caught the disease so far and eight have died. An isolation ward screened off by barbed wire has been set up in the Pakistani city of Quetta, and an international appeal for help has been launched.
Evidence suggests the outbreak of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) emanates from within Afghanistan, raising fears of an epidemic if millions of refugees flee across the frontier into Pakistan.
CCHF has effects similar to the ebola virus. Both damage arteries, veins and other blood vessels and lead to the eventual collapse of crucial organs.
As one doctor put it, a patient suffering from haemorrhagic fever "literally melts in front of your eyes".
At the Fatima Jinnah Chest and General Hospital in Quetta, capital of the Pakistani province of Baluchistan, an isolation ward with eight treatment beds and two observation bays has been set up. Nine-year- old Ismail Sadiq lay on one of the beds, his body racked with fever and a wad of cotton wool stuffed into each nostril to stem the bleeding.
Outside, members of his family sat anxiously in the shade of a tree. An elderly man worked worry beads through his fingers, but doctors had forbidden all visits. The only people Ismail sees are doctors and nurses wearing the "barrier nursing" outfit of sterilised hairnet, mask, gloves, gown and overshoes.
Another patient, a 65-year-old, lay inert on his bed, with streams of dried blood on his chin, nose and tongue. His shirt was also stained heavily with blood.
The first known case of the disease was among Russian soldiers serving in the Crimea in 1944 and then among villagers living near the Congolese city of Kisangani in 1956. Not until 1969 were scientists able to isolate the single virus common to both.
Although there have been a number of cases since, the outbreaks have never been as large as the current one.
"We had our first case in Pakistan in the 1970s," Dr Akhlaq Hussain, the hospital's medical superintendent, said.
"It would seem there is a reservoir of the virus in Afghanistan, and we are now worried about the possible effects of an influx of many new refugees.
"The virus is carried by domestic animals, and if they come in large numbers with large numbers of animals we can expect many more cases."
The Pakistani authorities have asked the World Health Organisation for additional supplies to help deal with the outbreak, including storage facilities for clean blood plasma and white blood cells, which can be used to replace those lost by patients.
The virus is widely distributed in the blood of sheep, cattle and other mammals across eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. It can be passed to man by a species of tick, Hyalomma marginatum, common in the same areas.
If caught in time, CCHF can be treated by replacing enough of the lost body fluids to allow the patient's immune system to take over and kill the virus.
The facilities at Fatima Jinnah are basic, but the staff are dedicated and brave, treating patients even though there is a high risk of infection.
The Telegraph, London
-- ed (email@example.com), October 04, 2001.
I double checked all of my on-line news sources and cannot confirm this story. Can anyone else?
-- Ken S. in WC TN (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 04, 2001.
Ken, this is on the Hal Lindsey Oracle. Virus Literally "Melts" Victims
Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever Rages On Afghan Border
10/04/01 An Ebola-like virus called Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever and believed to have come from within Afghanistan is raging through refugee camps containing as many as four million refugees. According to one doctor at the scene, a patient infected with the virus 'literally melts'. There have been suggestions that Osama bin-Laden is experimenting with various bio-weapons. A test run?
-- Sissy Sylvester-Barth (iblong2Him@ilovejesus.net), October 04, 2001.
I entered Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever into Google and came up with over 900 hits. Some of them, on the first page, were dating back to the '80s. So the disease, unfortunately, is apparently not a figment of someone's imagination.
-- Laura Jensen (email@example.com), October 05, 2001.