Financial Times
Afghan rivalries blamed for US military setback
  by Charles Clover in Gardez, Afghanistan, and FT.com staff
March 5, 2002/March 6, 2002 



As Gomer Pyle used to say: Surprise, surprise! The U.S. commanders in the 
recent debacle in the mountains of  Paktia were led down the garden path by 
their noble Northern Alliance allies, according to this story in the 

> Local political rivalries in Afghanistan's eastern Pakhtia 
> province appear to have contributed > to the initial defeat of 
> the US-led attack on al-Qaeda forces on Saturday and the worst 
> US casualties since the war started last October.
> ... Militia commanders in Gardez and Kabul said the US may have 
> made the mistake of relying on a few local commanders who, 
> accidentally or deliberately, gave wrong estimates of enemy 
> troop numbers and backed out on pledges to assist in the 
> battle.
> Commander Abdul Mateen Hassankheil, whose soldiers are among the 
> 1,500-strong Afghan contingent fighting in Shahi-kot, in 
> mountains near Gardez, on Tuesday criticised the running of the 
> operation.
> He said: "The US does not understand our local politics. It does 
> not know whom to trust, and trusts the wrong people."
> ... Commander Hassankheil said the beginning of the battle was 
> badly planned because the US relied on intelligence from Padshah 
> Khan, a powerful local commander ousted as governor of the 
> province weeks ago after clashes with militias in Gardez. He 
> said Mr Khan told the US the enemy at Shahi-kot was less 
> numerous than was actually the case.
> Mr Khan had also told American commanders he was engaging the 
> al-Qaeda units when his forces were nowhere near the area.

Stabbed in the back by a crafty Oriental!

I hate to say I told you so, but the embarrassing effects of the U.S. Whiz-
Kid hubris I've mentioned before show no signs of abating in Afghanistan. 
Don't any of our rulers read history? If they had, they would know -- as 
the readers of this site do already -- that shifting loyalties and betrayal 
by the natives are common problems for interlopers in that benighted 
country. If their lack of insight and prudence in this case is typical, 
there may be a huge disaster of some kind in the Empire's future. I would 
not bet against it.

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