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Indybay Feature
Sat Apr 24 2004
Latest Afghanistan Updates: Warlordism, Drugs and Oppression
Sat Apr 24 2004
latest afghan news
4/24/2004 Afghan President Hamid Karzai has little power outside of Kabul. In March fighting broke out between the Afghan army and forces loyal to warlord Ismail Khan. In early April, between 2,000 and 3,000 soldiers loyal to Rashid Dostum invaded and took control of several Afghan cities . General Abdul Rashid Dostum is officially an adviser to Karzai, but in reality Dostum has more real military power and Karzai's role is effectively that of a US ambassador to the various warlords.

The Afghanistan government's problems are not restricted to former warlords from the Northern Alliance. While the US government says the "spring offensive by Taliban and al Qaeda guerrillas in Afghanistan's restive south is the weakest in two years", a look the attacks in just the past few days reveals the extent of Afghanistan's problems. On Thursday April 22th, fighting between US forces and Taliban fighters resulted in the death of former football star Pat Tillman. Also on Thursday, a bomb targeting the provincial governor exploded in Kandahar province. On Friday April 23rd, "Suspected Taliban rebels fired rockets and machine-guns at a checkpoint in a remote southwestern region, killing eight Afghan soldiers in a nighttime attack." Also on the 23rd, a US Patrol was ambushed in Khost province sparking a one-hour firefight and "a group of 50 armed men attacked aid workers" in Kandahar, "setting fire to eight vehicles." Taliban leader Mulla Dadullah claims that his fighters are now in control of 26 rural districts in southern and south-western Afghanistan and even Mullah Omar is now talking to the media, giving one of his first interviews since he was forced out of power in 2001.

A recent Human Rights Watch report has detailed how US backed warlords in Afghanistan are threatening women's rights and freedom of expression. Last November, thousands of Afghan women were expelled from school simply for being married, there are reports that a growing number of women in Herat Province have been killing themselves through self-immolation, and on April 17th, Nangahar province declared female entertainers un-Islamic and "banned them from performing on television and radio.

In 2002 Afghanistan became the world's largest opium producer. In 2003, Afghanistan was thought to be producing 76 percent of the world's opium, and this year's harvest could be "twice as large as last year's near-record crop".

In January, retired Army Colonel Hy Rothstein concluded in a Pentagon commissioned report that the US has failed to adapt to new conditions created by the Taliban's collapse and created conditions that have given "warlordism, banditry and opium production a new lease on life."
The New Yorker: The Other War | A Look At the Role of Women in Post-9/11 Afghanistan
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