The Taleban, after having assassinated Ahmed Shah Massoud and Abdul Haq, hanged five more opposition commanders on October 27th.
According to the Pakistani press agency AIP, the five commanders were captured in Darae Souf, in the province of Samangan in northern Afghanistan and were hanged by the Taleban along with fifteen soldiers who were accompanying them.
The Taleban have proven to be much more resilient fighters than expected by the US/UK alliance, despite the fact that the Soviet Union, with all its military might, was unable to stabilise the country.
The Taleban understand the western alliance very well. They have studied the western form of thinking and acting and have been making preparations. Bin Laden himself stated in an interview conceded to a Palestinian journalist before the conflict that he intended to bring the US forces to fight on his territory.
The question is whether the western alliance understands how to combat a phenomenon like the Taleban, who have reportedly placed thousands of inflatable tanks and aircraft in open spaces for the US/UK aircraft to bomb. The Taleban, although they are far from being a source of reliable information, state that their military capacity remains intact after 21 days of bombing.
During the intervention of the Soviet Armed Forces, the Mujaheddin took to the mountains, leaving the cities to the “enemy” and this is exactly what they are doing in this campaign. The Taleban will not take refuge in the famous Panjshir Valley, where Massoud held out against Soviet airpower, because this is the haven of the Tajiks, but the mountains ranges around the Pashtun heartlands near Kandahar, the Taleban stronghold, are just as impenetrable.
As was the strategy against the Soviets, the Taleban (who have replaced the Mujaheddin) are using the terrain they know to their own advantage. This is not a high-tech war, it is bandit country. Invisible warriors appear out of the mountains, slit a throat, launch a grenade and disappear back into oblivion.
More than a clash of cultures, this is a clash of worlds. Afghans, if the term can be used to cover the many different tribes inhabiting this region, are resilient and determined fighters. They know the terrain, the alliance does not. Bombing civilians is not the answer. Intelligence is.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON PORTUGAL