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Dec-29-2008 01:02printcommentsVideo

Taliban Activity Surges to New Levels in Afghanistan

As Americans spend hundreds of billions fighting the war in Iraq, the picture in Afghanistan grows more dismal.

Oregon National Guard soldiers on patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan
Oregon National Guard soldiers on patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photos and video reports by Tim King
Salem-News.com

(SALEM, Ore.) - Afghanistan's former finance minister says the country is in a political, economic and social crisis. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai calls the Afghan government "one of the five most corrupt governments in the world".

He criticized the Afghan government in a Kabul news conference for not hiring professional people and also there is no punishment or privileging in the government.

He also says there are also many other problems which have in general, caused the people to take distance from the government.

That is bad news as the power of the Taliban, which has long operated its own shadow government in the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan, now spreads north to the doorstep of Kabul, according to The Associated Press.

They conducted interviews with a dozen government officials, analysts, Taliban commanders and Afghan villagers, and leaned that more than seven years after the U.S.-led invasion, the Islamic militants are attempting to reinstitute the government that it ruled Afghanistan with in the late 1990s.

Heavy Activity Near Kabul

Taliban activity has been heavy only thirty miles from Kabul, in Wardak province, which lies just 30 miles from the Afghan capital of Kabul, right on the main highway.

The AP reports that Taliban fighters in Wardak province are taking over district centers, setting up checkpoints on rural highways, and capturing Afghan soldiers.

They reportedly have a governor and military chief in place, with what is described as a pseudo-court system ruled by religious leaders who act as judges.

Like in the 1990's, bands of armed militants in beat-up trucks reportedly cruise the countryside, dispensing their own justice against perceived enemies and lawbreakers.

I became friends with an interpreter in Kabul, Afghanistan whose three-year old daughter was shot in his front yard by Taliban gunmen in a passing pick up truck.

Report- Afghan National Police:
an Exercise in Survival

In fact the same night I first met the interpreter, I went out on patrol with U.S. soldiers and Afghan National Police. (The video frame to the left is a report from that patrol)

They explained to me that they made what amounted to approximately $65 a month and that they could not afford to feed their families. They asked the soldiers and I if we would give them our gloves.

They were police officers but they had no protective gear like bullet proof vests, let alone simple winter wear.

The tragedy this nation has witnessed over the last 30 years is indescribable and they are very tough and resilient people; they would have to be to have withstood what they have.

Most that I met and interviewed want nothing but peace, and see the Taliban as a rogue band that does not follow the true teachings of Islam.

"Three years ago the Taliban had no control in Afghanistan. They were spread too thin. Now they have power. They have soldiers. They have governors, district chiefs and judges. It is a very big difference from what you saw in 2003 or even 2005," Abdul Salam Zaeef told reporters. He is the Taliban's former ambassador to Pakistan.


2008 was a hard year for American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The U.S. is expected to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan by next summer.

Those numbers will add to the almost 70,000 international soldiers under NATO and US command who are already on the ground there.

It is not clear if that will be enough.

The US military has already indicated that most of the soldiers would be sent to the east, in Helmand province, where there is also heavy insurgent activity, and to central areas near the capital, Kabul; likely in places like Wardak.

Of course southern Afghanistan is the home and central zone of the Taliban who lead the insurgency. These hardliners were driven from government in a US-led invasion in 2001 when they refused to hand over their Al-Qaeda allies. Buildings throughout Afghanistan that were Taliban strongholds were leveled by U.S. bombs during the opening round of the war there.

Report- Driving in Afghanistan-
The Most Dangerous Job of All

In Afghanistan's Kunar Province near the Pakistan border, soldiers don't even refer to enemy forces as Taliban. Derric Winters, an Army Specialist from Casper Wyoming, was based at a camp called "Lumberyard" in the Pesh Valley when I was in the area during late 2006. He was the first soldier to explain to me that they call enemies "anti-Coalition militias" since they are never really sure who they are fighting. (see: They Call It The Lumberyard, A Forward Operating Base in Remote Afghanistan )

Problems when I was in Afghanistan in 2006/2007 were minimal compared to now. Even then, random Taliban checkpoints were too common and something everyone had to be wary of, but today by all accounts they are far more common. Sadly, for good or otherwise, the forces that have been required to make a difference in Afghanistan have been routed to Iraq.

Approximately 75% of America's war assets go toward Iraq, with 25% going to Afghanistan and other conflicts. That is sad as we stand a chance, hopefully still, to make a difference in this country as we should have after the defeat of the Soviet Union in 1989. (see: One Billion Dollars Allowed Afghan Rebels to Defeat the Soviets)

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Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 in Afghanistan with Oregon troops. Tim recently returned from Iraq where he covered the war there while embedded with an Oregon Guard aviation unit. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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Rich January 4, 2009 11:44 am (Pacific time)

Henry you stated "Best ones I find, trusty on other points, shows Obama with high confidence level from a healthy majority. IF anyone finds numbers, please share with probing note re the source reliability and nonpartisan character. Favorite ploy of "those others" is to state distorted, perverted non-confidence charge without source or any checkable back-up data. Be aware, be alert, be wise AND well-informed in 2009 !!" I put my source, a 180 from your above poll(?), on another article. Could you please provide me your source so I can review? Mine was from the Military Times and was reported on CNN and other networks. Possibly your valuable source was also and I missed it.


Henry Ruark January 2, 2009 7:52 pm (Pacific time)

n2s: You wrote:"Sources DO NOT vary. there are two sources, those that lie, and those that tell the truth." Do you have infallible method to distinquish which is which between the two ? If so, you have great career in politics. Fun-aside, tried your link but got Google-msg. "unavailable". Will try again, as usual for all links here. Re Ron Paul, respect the man but disagree with his views, and some of his values, too. You may be correct in some of your predictions; we'll soon see. Still think you will gain much via visit with trusted educator who really knows history. Best for the New Year to you.


Henry Ruark January 2, 2009 6:41 pm (Pacific time)

n2s: Good to know you still there and firing away... Re "time" happens to be short tonight due to deadline and a visit from son, first break from five rushed tv-news days. Thanks for your participation, moreassoonascando. But re zionist control here, ain't so,never will be, nor anyotherforceeither.


new2site January 2, 2009 6:13 pm (Pacific time)

henry: here is your data, but YOU wont view it, so WHY ASK? your OWN words": "If i find time".. what a joke.. stop asking if you dont have the time. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1070329053600562261andei=esleSZiXBqa2qAOT8I26AQandq=endgame


new2site January 2, 2009 6:10 pm (Pacific time)

I also want to thank Vic for sticking up for America and truth. We have no agenda Vic accept to make America a better place for our children, and to stop the lies and propaganda so many have fallen hypnotized to. Th zionist jews own the media and much of congress, and they are not nice people. Keep up the fight Vic. The Constitution is not difficult, and the words of Thomas Jefferson ring forever true.


new2site January 2, 2009 6:06 pm (Pacific time)

yeesh henry. what does obama have to do to show his colors? shoot 10,000 cute puppies? and say on mainstream media it was needed? look at his stance on gaza? his stance on israel? his stance on gunownership? his stance on who he picked for his advisors? His stance on Wall street? Sources DO NOT vary. there are two sources, those that lie, and those that tell the truth. FACT: Ron Paul is the one that was most supported by military. Fact: Obama got a little support because he said he would stop the wars. WHICH HE is NOT doing. More lies. The military is learning his lies. I have heard it first hand. You want sources? go to www.whatreallyhappened.com for Israel/Gaza info. The bailout did not work, it only made the banks richer and the Americans poorer. Obama supported the bailout. On another topic. i noticed the kindness from marines to Iraqi's on this website. Those are the ones who will stay there, and the violent ones will be sent to the U.S. for civil dissent when the economy crashes. The ones that are felons and illegal immigrants that the recruiters hired.


Henry Ruark January 2, 2009 12:10 pm (Pacific time)

Rich et al: Sources vary via their bgrnd political-leanings. Best ones I find, trusty on other points, shows Obama with high confidence level from a healthy majority. IF anyone finds numbers, please share with probing note re the source reliability and nonpartisan character. Favorite ploy of "those others" is to state distorted, perverted non-confidence charge without source or any checkable back-up data. Be aware, be alert, be wise AND well-informed in 2009 !! Easy...simply look in here at S-N from time to time...


Rich January 2, 2009 8:28 am (Pacific time)

Does anyone know how our current military feels about Obama as their incoming Commander in Chief? Certainly this is an extremely important issue because of not only current hostilities but also morale. I heard that they were not happy about this situation but have found no sources that verify.


Vic January 1, 2009 1:31 pm (Pacific time)

Yeah Israel is a real beacon of democracy....ask the starving , shellshocked citizens of Gaza about Israeli "democracy". Israel has no place in a civilized and peaceful world. Actually, neither do we.


Subvet 416 December 30, 2008 10:39 am (Pacific time)

As Dr. Leveque recently reported, Gen. Patton said "A soldier who won't fornicate won't fight." If this is true, and I feel most vets would agree that it is, then why in Hell are we supplying the Taliban with Viagara? There is no "immediate medical attention" available in the mountains of Afghanistan for those dangerous erections that could last more than four hours. We could be creating a situation where Taliban fighters become even more motivated to take out their frustrations on the Afghan government and our troops.


Sol Menashe December 29, 2008 10:28 am (Pacific time)

We are spending more in Iraq because of it's strategic importance to America and the middle east. Afghanistan is important for humanitarian reasons, but it's time to marshall our forces and stabalize the area around Israel, for they are our true partner in our common pursuit of ensuring peace for all democracies.

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