Military.com: The U.S. Marine Corps is sticking with its Vietnam-era, M40 sniper rifle series, despite complaints from scout snipers who say they need the modern, longer-range weapons used by special-ops snipers. Marine scout snipers are considered to be among the best snipers in the world, but many are frustrated at the limitations of the current M40A5 sniper rifle. The A5 is based on the Remington M700 short-action design that's chambered for 7.62x51mm NATO, like the original M40 Marines [read more]
In an interesting and rather strange Asia Times article on the intertwined relationship between Iran, the U.S., Afghanistan and Pakistan, pro-Iranian commentator Kaveh L Afrasiabi sees possible cooperation between Iran and the U.S. on logistical supply routes to Afghanistan and other things associated with Operation Enduring Freedom. If one can get by the dreaming, he makes this interesting statement.
“The difference between then and now is that the US officials are now distinguishing between the ‘good Taliban’ versus the ‘bad Taliban’ and hoping to sow divisions between them and reach a compromise with the former, perhaps as part of an emerging post-Karzai scenario,” said a Tehran University political scientist. The scholar added that he believes Iran does not like this “new approach” and finds it “simplistic and defeatist”.
He adds that the existing Karzai regime is backed by Iran. The Captain’s Journal is no fan of Karzai, and we have already mentioned that a break with his administration might be necessary. But it’s unlikely that Iran and the U.S. have mutual interests in anything. For every U.S. interest, there is a corollary counter-interest by Iran, with regional Persian hegemony being the ultimate aim.
But of interest is that it is now understood worldwide that the U.S. is trying to delineate between “good” and “bad” Taliban. True enough, there will be some amount of adolescents, teenagers and ne’er-do-wells who got sucked into the Taliban and might be able to be separated from the pack. But we believe that this fraction is somewhere between very small and vanishingly small. Hear carefully the words of one Taliban.
Abdul Shafiq is around 30 years old and has sacrificed his family life for two things: reading the Koran and fighting.
After years in exile following the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan, this Taliban commander is back in the mountains of his birth, having left behind his old life with his family for one mission: chasing out the “infidel” Americans.
Abdul Shafiq — an assumed name — looks like any other Afghan, except that he has never been as unhappy as in times of peace.
In hiding in Kabul, he rarely spends two nights in the same place, taking a break before returning to the fight.
In the mountains, he heard of new US President Barack Obama “who will change nothing” and of Palestine “where something is happening”.
His future seems set: “As long as the Americans are here, we will fight them,” says the Taliban militant, whom AFP could only meet through local intermediaries …
It was in the northern mountains that he heard, over Taliban combat radio, on September 11, 2001 that planes sent by Al-Qaeda, had struck at the heart of the United States.
“That was beautiful, delicious to hear, everyone was happy,” the warrior says with a smile.
But when the United States invaded Afghanistan the following month, Shafiq and his comrades soon realised they could not withstand the deluge of US bombs and fled. Some went to Pakistan. Others, like Shafiq, went west to Iran.
The Iranian government and the Taliban may have little in common, but they shared virulent opposition to the United States.
Iran took in Taliban in their thousands … In Kabul, the US army, sure of itself, branded the Taliban finished.
It was then that Shafiq slipped quietly home to Wardak. “They told us that the Americans were stopping the Taliban much less,” he says.
He took charge of a group of 30 men who lived on the move, going from one safehouse to another, he says.
Even before then, the Taliban started to regroup. “Everything is structured. The orders come from our leaders in Pakistan …
So much for Iran’s suspicion of the Taliban as suggested by Kaveh L Afrasiabi. There are many lessons wrapped up in this one interview, only parts of which are included above. Iran supports the Taliban. The hard core Taliban will fight until they die or we lose. They get their orders from leaders Pakistan. They believe that the U.S. has stood down in the effort to roust the Taliban.
As for the Tehrik-i-Taliban in Pakistan, another Asia Times article gives us what The Captain’s Journal believes to be a correct snapshot of the evolution in their thinking.
In some places they aim to enforce strict sharia law. In others, the Taliban want to establish bases from which to work in support of the resistance against foreign forces in Afghanistan.
In yet other areas, the purpose is simply to create chaos and anarchy so that militants can engage the Pakistani armed forces and deter them from supporting the global “war on terror”.
However, the ultimate mission of the groups is steadily harmonizing, that is, to support the regional war and then the global war against Western hegemony; this is the concept driving the neo-Taliban.
Whether the Afghan Taliban who are committed to war against the U.S. in Afghanistan, or the TTP who are committed to war against the West from Afghanistan to New York and London, the goals and aims of the “Taliban” are gradually dovetailing. There will be fewer and fewer “good” ones left, if there ever were any to begin with.