Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Afghanistan - half-empty, half-full

Cali Ruchala reports on Afghanistan. She finds a similar dynamic to Iraq's.

Thus far, attempts have been made on the life of no less than a dozen candidates. In addition, five religious clerics outspoken in their support of President Hamid Karzai have been gunned down - the latest, Abdullah Malang, just a week ago.

More worrying has been the US and Kabul government's response to the rise in the insurgency. Almost weekly, the US military spokesman, Cindy Moore, announces another broad sweep in some far-flung corner of Afghanistan. The raids aren't meant to capture Osama bin Laden - his name is hardly ever mentioned in Afghan reports anymore - but "rooting out" and killing insurgents. High death toll numbers are announced, though the frequency of the attacks increases after each operation.

The raids - like the insurgency - has thus far been concentrated in overwhelmingly Pashtun areas. The result is that Afghanistan's ethnic majority, particularly in rural areas effected by the sweeps, has become a fertile recruiting ground for insurgents.

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