Why hasn't Mazar-i-Sharif been destroyed by now?

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Why hasn't Mazar-i-Sharif been destroyed by now? I don't get it. Before the bombing began we were hearing that Bin Laden would probably hide out in Mazar-i-Sharif, his "highly fortified" hiding place, an "important military base"....."Mazar-i-Sharif is the Taliban stronghold and Bin Laden's primary hideaway." [and right up next to China and Russia escape routes.]

Then I read that we are bombing everywhere but there....

" As U.S. air raids in Afghanistan continued, senior Afghan opposition commander General Abdul Rashid Dostum said anti-Taliban forces were preparing a ``fierce offensive'' in the key northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. The U.S. air strikes have yet to target the large concentration of Taliban forces north of Kabul, which are blocking the advance of the opposition Northern Alliance."

News reports say that we are "running out of targets", we are bombing the "same airfields" over and over again, we sent a fighter out to bomb one helicopter.... Mazar-i-Sharif is a KEY military target, so why hasn't it been destroyed ?

Only serious responses please, Gail Vass

-- Gail Vass (wbanks@erols.com), October 15, 2001


Could it be that there are US/UK ground Forces present in M-i-S and the Pentagon don't want to kill them by friendly fire and make a complete ASS of their crusade?

Does anybody believe that all this will eventually lead to the capture or death of ObL?

-- G. W. Najes (najes@aol.com), October 15, 2001.

I don't believe that we want to capture or kill OBL...we certainly don't want a public trial or to make another martyr. I don't believe OBL is the reason for the bombardment of Afganistan in the first place. We want the Taliban government removed and we want access to the oil in that region. I believe that without the Twin Tower tragedy, we would have attacked the Taliban "terrorists" now anyway and that OBL got wind of our plan and struck us first.

-- Gail Vass (wbanks@erols.com), October 15, 2001.

Firstly Abdul Rashid Dostum is a war lord who for a while fought with the Taliban as I think they offered him cash to do so. When it suited him he left them again. What one might call an unreliable ally at best. The Taliban positions north of Kabul haven't been bombed precisely because that would mean the Northern Alliance would march on Kabul. A favourable speculation as to they are being thwared, at least for now, would be that they have a record of brutality that in many ways exceeds that of the Taliban. For them to storm into Kabul by themselves would I think be viewed as undesirable. An another speculation might be that that when leaders warn of a long drawn out conflict what they mean is that they want a long drawn out conflict. Fighting 'low level conflict' (the definition of which is frighteningly close to that of terrorism)is after all official doctrine. I don't know why you think Mazar-i-Sharif is a key military target, to my knowledge it is nothing of the sort. It was only recently captured by the Taliban and is only on the periphery of their empire. Early releases to the press suggesting knowledge that enemy X is probably located in place Y will almost invariable mean that he is not.

-- phil chapman (dolphinholmer@hotmail.com), October 15, 2001.

That US was planning to go after Taliban long before 9/11 has already been posted on this forum, see: http://hv.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=006f4d

If the Taliban gvt has to be removed, it would be the job of UN and not US. If ths US wants to act like the big bully of the world then it might have to get used to expecting to get a short sharp kick in the balls as per 9/11. When the USSR deserted Afghanistan over 10 years ago was the right time for US to intervene, but because there is no oil in Afghanistan, US could not be bothered. There is still no oil in Afghanistan, so that angle that you are raising is false, the oil is next door in Iran and US intervention from the time of Mosadgh (PM of Iran) all the way to 1978 in proping up the Shah is what got US into big shit with Iran, I bet many in the US admin wish that Carter had bombed the hell out of the Mullahs back then!

US admin /people have a short memory, sad to say.

-- G. W. Najes (najes@aol.com), October 15, 2001.

For the same reason that flight 77 veered 270 degrees and went into the west side of the Pentagon, opposite the side containing top Washinton brass.

-- Ken (n4wind@sonic.net), October 15, 2001.

Only serious responses please, Gail Vass

If you want serious responses please post your sources.

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 15, 2001.

Here is the complete article. The above was just a small portion

India in anti-Taliban military plan

India and Iran will "facilitate" the planned US-Russia hostilities against the Taliban.

By Our Correspondent

26 June 2001: India and Iran will "facilitate" US and Russian plans for "limited military action" against the Taliban if the contemplated tough new economic sanctions don't bend Afghanistan's fundamentalist regime.

The Taliban controls 90 per cent of Afghanistan and is advancing northward along the Salang highway and preparing for a rear attack on the opposition Northern Alliance from Tajikistan-Afghanistan border positions.

Indian foreign secretary Chokila Iyer attended a crucial session of the second Indo-Russian joint working group on Afghanistan in Moscow amidst increase of Taliban's military activity near the Tajikistan border. And, Russia's Federal Security Bureau (the former KGB) chief Nicolai Patroshev is visiting Teheran this week in connection with Taliban's military build-up.

Indian officials say that India and Iran will only play the role of "facilitator" while the US and Russia will combat the Taliban from the front with the help of two Central Asian countries, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, to push Taliban lines back to the 1998 position 50 km away from Mazar-e-Sharief city in northern Afghanistan.

Military action will be the last option though it now seems scarcely avoidable with the UN banned from Taliban-controlled areas. The UN which adopted various means in the last four years to resolve the Afghan problem is now being suspected by the Taliban and refused entry into Taliban areas of the war-ravaged nation through a decree issued by Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar last month.

Diplomats say that the anti-Taliban move followed a meeting between US Secretary of State Collin Powel and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and later between Powell and Indian foreign minister Jaswant Singh in Washington. Russia, Iran and India have also held a series of discussions and more diplomatic activity is expected.

The Northern Alliance led by ousted Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani and his military commander Ahmed Shah Masood have mustered Western support during a May 2001 visit to Dusseldorf, Germany.

The Taliban is using high-intensity rockets and Soviet-made tanks to attack Northern Alliance fighters in the Hindukush range with alleged Pakistani aid. But Northern Alliance fighters have acquired anti-tank missiles from a third country that was used in the fight near Bagram Air Base in early June. The Taliban lost 20 fighters and fled under intense attack.

Officials say that the Northern Alliance requires a "clean up" operation to reduce Taliban's war-fighting machinery to launch an attack against the Taliban advance to the Tajik-Afghan border. This "clean up" action is being planned by the US and Russia since the Taliban shows no "sign of reconciliation".

Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will lead the ground attack with a strong military back up of the US and Russia. Vital Taliban installations and military assets will be targeted. India and Iran will provide logistic support. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already hinted of military action against the Taliban to CIS nation heads during a meeting in Moscow in early June.

India and Iran have been assisting the Northern Alliance and the Afghan people under their humanitarian programme since Taliban's ouster of the Rabbani government in 1996. The US needs Russian assistance because of Soviet knowledge of the Afghan terrain. The former Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan in 1979 and withdrew in 1989.

Masood's strategic stronghold of Panjsher valley has been threatened by the advancing Taliban militia for the last three months. The Northern Alliance has stepped up its attack on Taliban troops who have brought the valley within artillery fire range.

Military planners say that if Taliban were not given a blow now it would slowly make inroads into the Panjsher valley. The fall of Panjsher will enable Taliban to control the remaining 10 per cent of Afghanistan in possession of the Northern Alliance.

Russia says it has evidence that the Taliban aims to create "liberated zones" all across Central Asia and Russia and links its Chechnya problem to the rise of Taliban fundamentalism. The US is directly hit by the anti-US thrust of Islamic groups who use Afghanistan as their base for terrorism and is demanding extradition of Osama Bin Laden to face trial in the embassy bombing case.

Such Central Asian countries as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are threatened by the Taliban that is aiming to control their vast oil, gas and other resources by bringing Islamic fundamentalists into power. Now all the CIS nations are seeking assistance of Russia's Federal Border Guard Service to overcome the Taliban threat.

General Konstantin Trotsky, director of the border force, said in a newspaper interview, "We are watching the opposition of the Northern Alliance and the Taliban in Afghanistan very closely."

For its part, Shia Iran is reluctant to tolerate a Sunni militia regime on its border that gives Pakistan, a Sunni country and a sponsor of the Taliban, a "strategic sway" on considerable parts of the Iranian border. Iran is also affected by a Taliban-sponsored movement in Ispahan province where Sunnis have a sizable population.

Iran is also worried over the unending war effort of the Taliban to get supremacy in Afghanistan that is harming Iran's economic interests. India, Iran and Russia, for example, are working on a broad plan to supply oil and gas to south Asia and southeast Asian nations through India but instability in Afghanistan is posing a great threat to this effort.

Similarly, India is apprehensive about the increasing infiltration of Afghan-trained foreign mercenaries into Kashmir. Security agencies have reported that as many as 15,000 hardcore militants have received training in such places in Afghanistan as Khost, Jalalabad, Kabul and Kandahar since 1995. There are 55 terrorist training camps located in Afghanistan that are funded and aided by Islamic fundamentalists to carry out attacks against non-Islamic nations.

The UN had sent a 12-member delegation to India in the first week of May to assess the feasibility of tough economic sanctions against Taliban. The same delegation met General Pervez Musharraf to convince him about the importance of Pakistani cooperation. The UN believes that the sanctions can be only as tough as Pakistan desires.

India's official position is for a "peaceful and lasting solution" to the Afghan problem. But it strongly advocates strict economic sanctions against Taliban and is also not averse to a "limited military action" to weaken it.

India plans to raise the Afghanistan issue in the forthcoming G-8 summit in Geneva in mid-July.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 15, 2001.

There are more oil reserves in the Caspian Basin than all of the Middle East. To get it out and bypass the Iraqis and Iranians would make the Khyber Pass an absolute necessity for the pipe lines. A safe Khyber Pass must mean the end of the present chaos. This oil is destined for sale to one billion Chinese and another one billion Indians on the sub-continent. This represents more money and geo- political power than you could ever imagine. Don

-- Don Allen (Don29681@aol.com), October 15, 2001.

I read somewhere where the majors had given up on the Caspian Sea because the area did not contain that much oil.

-- David Williams (DAVIDWILL@prodigy.net), October 15, 2001.

I'm sorry it took me so long to find this article, It answers my question for me! Gail

October 9, 2001 http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/09/international/asia/09STRA.html?todaysheadlines TACTICS

* Dusty City May Be Pivotal to U.S. Effort *


WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 A dusty city in northern Afghanistan called Mazar-i-Sharif has become a vivid illustration of the strategy the Bush administration is using to undermine the Taliban.

The city is a hub for the Taliban's effort to defeat the Northern Alliance, the rebel army that has battled the Taliban for years and is now acting as a proxy ground force for the Pentagon.

The Taliban forces hunkered down at Mazar-i-Sharif have been at the top of the target list for American forces. The United States has already pounded a concentration of Soviet-made tanks, fighter aircraft and an SA-3 anti-aircraft missile site that the Taliban had placed there, Pentagon officials say.

If the Taliban's forces near Mazar- i-Sharif are destroyed and the supply lines to the city disrupted, that could weaken the Taliban's defensive line to the east. And that, in turn, could enable the Northern Alliance to punch through defenses and extend its control over northern Afghanistan.

"If Mazar-i-Sharif falls, that would be a significant blow to the Taliban," a Pentagon official said.

While President Bush has vowed to hunt down Osama bin Laden, another crucial goal has been to pave the way for anti-Taliban rebels who are trying to overthrow Mullah Muhammad Omar, the supreme Taliban leader.

As Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld put it on Sunday, a major aim is to "alter the military balance over time by denying to the Taliban its offensive systems that hamper the progress of various opposition forces."

The Taliban have signaled their determination to beat back their rival, something they have succeeded in doing for years.

In the north, that means stopping the Northern Alliance from breaking through the front line that runs from the Tajik border to just north of Kabul, the Afghan capital.

More than 20,000 Taliban troops, including Arab fighters that Mr. bin Laden has recruited from as far away as Saudi Arabia and Chechnya, are aligned against the Northern Alliance along two long mountainous fronts north of Kabul, according to an overview provided by Defense Department officials.

Some 10,000 to 15,000 troops from the Taliban's 5th and 7th Corps are stretched along the front near Taliqan, a town east of Mazar-i-Sharif. Another 10,000 to 15,000 from the Central Corps are on the front north of Kabul. Mullah Omar directs the war effort from his headquarters in the Kandahar region, issuing orders by couriers, radio and cellphone.

To help the anti-Taliban forces, the Bush administration is providing covert assistance and making targets of the Taliban's armor and aircraft. Today, Mr. Rumsfeld also signaled that the Arab combatants who have been fighting alongside the Taliban in the north or as Mr. Rumsfeld put it, "Al Qaeda-dominated ground forces" were also a target.

A Pentagon official said the Taliban front-line positions consisted of trenches and dug-in artillery that were easily identifiable from the air. But it is not just the front line that is a potential target.

Set on a plain 40 miles from the Amu River that divides Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, Mazar-i-Sharif has drawn the attention of Pentagon planners. The city is populated by ethnic Uzbeks and has long been a strategically important site to both the Taliban and their foes as they have waged war for control of northern Afghanistan, and it has traded hands.

Before it fell to the Taliban in 1998, it was a visible symbol of life in Afghanistan free of the harsh strictures of the Taliban's brand of religious fundamentalism and a place where women could wear makeup and attend the local university.

But now it is of interest to the Pentagon because of the role the bases near there play in the Taliban's defensive plan.

A major setback for the Taliban in the north could seriously destabilize their rule. In addition, Americans hope to capitalize on the growing disaffection of Pashtun tribal leaders in the south.

"The focus of the Taliban regime has been to win the war against the Northern Alliance," a Pentagon official said, adding that once the Taliban's supporting groups "sense the war effort is going badly, they need to start looking at alternatives."

The Pentagon estimates that the Taliban has 40,000 to 60,000 fighters throughout Afghanistan. Pentagon officials say they have received reports of "predefection negotiations" between tribal leaders allied with Pakistan and rival groups. Pentagon officials stress it is too early to tell if the Taliban will disintegrate as a fighting force but assert that much of the Taliban's support is soft.

"The 40,000 they have now could become 20,000 overnight, and 10,000 in a week," a Pentagon official said. "And it could go back the other way, too." A key element of their forces has been the Arab fighters recruited by Mr. bin Laden. Some 500 to 1,000 fighters make up the Arab Brigade. They were used in the Taliban's conquest of Mazar-i-Sharif, play an important role on the northern front and are among the 2,000 to 4,000 Arab fighters who have come to Afghanistan for training at Mr. bin Laden's terrorist camps. The fighters at the training camps might also join the fight if the Taliban seek their support for a final stand.

Hundreds of Islamic fighters, terrorists who graduated from Mr. bin Laden's camps and new volunteers, have also been trying to make their way to Afghanistan. Many of them have been turned away after flying into Pakistan, but some are presumed to have gotten through, Pentagon officials say.

The Pentagon is still shifting through bomb damage assessment from Sunday's strike. Before that attack, the Taliban had about 30 MIg- 21 and SU-22 war planes. The Taliban do not have the ability to make precision strikes, but they have carried out strikes against the Northern Alliance and also bombing attacks to scare villagers to flee settlements that back the anti-Taliban faction. The goal was to empty villages that have been part of the Northern Alliance's base of public support.

Even though the Taliban have dispersed the aircraft to a variety of airfields and tried to hide them with camouflage netting, the warplanes are readily detectable, American officials say.

Before the strike, the Taliban had only three SA-3 surface-to-air missile sites, at Mazar-i-Sharif, Kabul and Kandahar. Each site has a fire control system, a radar for target acquisition and two to three launchers with several missiles each. The Taliban had 300 to 500 antiaircraft guns.

Artillery is the Taliban's principal weapon. They use it to break up infantry attacks by the Northern Alliance. The Taliban also have 400 to 500 T-55 and T-62 tanks, some of which are dug into the ground.

Pentagon officials are not sure if the Taliban have an operational force of Scud surface-to-surface missiles. If they do, the consensus is that they cannot operate them as effectively as the Iraqis, who perfected the "shoot and scoot" tactics of firing their missiles and then rushing them into hiding during the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The Taliban do have shorter-range Frog surface-to- surface missiles.

But defeating the Taliban is more about breaking their will and wooing warlords to the opposing side.

"Defections are going to be a big measurement of the success," a Pentagon official said. "What we don't want to do is leave a significant element of the Taliban that can go up to the mountains and say, `We survived against the superpower and we are the center of power."'

-- Gail Vass (wbanks@erols.com), October 15, 2001.

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