Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 07, 2008

The Road War Moves to Pakistan


Suspected militants attacked a Pakistan transport terminal used to supply NATO and U.S. troops in Afghanistan, killing a guard and burning 106 vehicles on Sunday.
About 30 assailants armed with guns and rockets attacked the Portward Logistic Terminal near the city of Peshawar before dawn Sunday, police official Kashif Alam said.

A week ago something similar happened, as it did in mid November.

It seems that the winter campaign of the resistance in Pashtunistan, the area on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan boarder, will be against U.S./NATO supply convoys. The road war within Afghanistan has been going on for quite a while. The road war now moves into Pakistan.

(Map base via National Geographic)

At least 75% of all NATO/U.S. supply in Afghanistan comes through the Pakistani port of Karachi (1). Most of it goes up to Peshawar (2) and then through the Khyber pass to Kabul (3). A second route is from Karachi (1) through Quetta (5) to Kandahar (4). A part of the Afghan ring road connects Kabul (3) and Kandahar (4).It is constantly under attack.

Karachi is multi-ethnic and a week ago there were deadly gun fights between Pashtun and Punjabi people there. It is not at all a secure place for unloading supplies. Peshawar is the administrative centre for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Three days ago a bomb exploded there killing over 30 people. Quetta is said to be the place where Taliban leader Mullah Omar hides. We can conclude that these supply routes are endangered at nearly any point.

The Soviet learned some lessons about this. It was the road war that eventually killed their attempts in Afghanistan.

U.S./NATO supplies are even more endangered because:

  • They need much more general supply per man than the Soviets did;
  • They do not have a boarder to Afghanistan but have to route the supply through Pakistan;
  • Alternative routes are too long and odious.

The additional U.S. troops that will help to occupy Afghanistan next year will, as I estimated, need some 50 additional truck deliveries per day for fuel alone.

With the continued U.S. hostilities against the Pakistani and Pashtun people, one wonders how those are supposed to get through.

Posted by b on December 7, 2008 at 05:27 AM | Permalink


"It's militarily insignificant," U.S. spokeswoman Lt. Col. Rumi Nielsen-Green said. "You can't imagine the volume of supplies that come through there and elsewhere and other ways."”


Posted by: Rick | Dec 7, 2008 8:43:57 AM | 1

"It's militarily insignificant," U.S. spokeswoman Lt. Col. Rumi Nielsen-Green said. "You can't imagine the volume of supplies that come through there and elsewhere and other ways."”


Posted by: Rick | Dec 7, 2008 8:43:59 AM | 2

I can guarantee you, b, the the US (and NATO) quartermasters are not so dumb that they have not considered this -- and not reveal to us mortals what their conclusions are. In any event, I would shed no tears if the invaders (Under proper terms, what we are witnessing is an invasion, not a war -- which implies two willing sides; one should call things by what they are in the world.) couldn't supply themselves.

In other news: US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has said that there is enough evidence of the involvement of former Inter-Services Intelligence officers in the planning and execution of the Mumbai attack and if Pakistan does not act, and act fast, to arrest the involved people, India will be left with no option but to conduct aerial operations against select targets in Pakistan.... Pak Daily Times

See, it doesn't matter whether those who, against all evidence of the past eight years, still hold a misguided belief in the presence of Democracy in the US, because despite the fact that you believe that you did not elect this guy, he is still out there conducting Foreign Policy. And new Serial Emperor-elect 'Bam Bam'* apparently has no problem with Mac playing 'bad cop' to his 'good cop.'

I know the concept that the elite are united in foreign policy goals, and that they are able to actually play different roles, is difficult for some to either grasp, or maybe just believe ("but I thought that they were all kind-hearted public servants!"), so I'll be happy if one of you can supply me with an alternative theory.

* Since the US is, in MLK's construction, "the greastest purveyor of violence in the world," it seems only moral to me to refer to the person who acts in the role of titular head of meting out such violence upon the hapless denizens of its imperial outlying areas by the proper term, "Emperor." To call that person "President" when it's obvious that there hasn't been a serious election in at least the past three cycles only confers a certain legitimacy to the organized and intentional violence, which causes 50% of the population of the core of that Empire, including many of its most prominent dissident intellectuals, to publicly support such a system by engaging and inciting the citizenry to regularly lend it legitimacy by actively selecting the next administerer of violence. (How do we feel about Germans who supported a murderous and illegitimate system by voting for Hitler because "it was the best choice," or "I thought he had a legitimate chance to win," or "He was for hope and change" (he was), or any other rationalization for supporting such intentional and premeditated violence upon other human beings?) Fortunately, almost 50% of the citizens of the Empire's core, including most of its downtrodden, are moral enough to not confer de-facto legitimacy upon the mayhem by voting. Now if only we could convince the more privileged "educated" layer which makes this society work and profits from it -- What Michael Alpert refers to as the "Comporador" class -- to stop confering legitimacy upon such a system of organized structural violence, there could be a reduction in that violence. Unfortunately, much of that "education" consists in a systematic brainwashing that such a system of organized violence -- which gets its very raw materials and foodstock from methods which depend upon structural violence, and treats the Earth and its inhabitants who stand in the way this system's growth with even more violence -- can be reformed, which it cannot. Reforming the very means of production which defines such a system -- one where its inhabitants feel compelled to invest in such a system of structural violence in order to support themselves -- is manifestly impossible, and any restraints put upon such a system's violence must, by nature of those means of production, be temporary in the extreme. /end rant

Posted by: Malooga | Dec 7, 2008 9:07:13 AM | 3

Mr. Stinger Manpad hasn't been heard from yet, but he's on call, and he loves big, fat choppers.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 7, 2008 9:35:40 AM | 4

More trucks burned - interestingly not supply trucks, i.e. Pakistani transport rented by the U.S.

These attacks were on U.S. trucks destinated to Afghanistan. When the additional brigade descends on Kabul's airport in January, it may well find that not even half of their stuff is there.

Militants destroy NATO vehicles in Pakistan

Militants blasted their way into two transport terminals in Pakistan on Sunday and torched more than 160 vehicles destined for U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan, in the biggest assault yet on a vital military supply line, officials said.
Terminal manager Kifayatullah Khan said armed men flattened the gate before dawn with a rocket-propelled grenade, shot dead a guard and set fire to a total of 106 vehicles, including about 70 Humvees.

An Associated Press reporter who visited the depot saw six rows of destroyed Humvees and military trucks parked close together, some of them on flatbed trailers, all of them gutted and twisted by the flames.
At the nearby Faisal depot, manager Shah Iran said 60 vehicles destined for Afghanistan as well as three Pakistani trucks were burned in a similar assault.

@Malooga: I can guarantee you, b, the the US (and NATO) quartermasters are not so dumb that they have not considered this -- and not reveal to us mortals what their conclusions are. In any event, I would shed no tears if the invaders

I don't shed any tears for them. I want them to leave. The quartermasters are in trouble. The policy of the Bush regime, especially versus Pakistan but also against Russia and Iran, has left them without appropriate paths to bring in what the troops want or even need.

They will be able to improvise a bit, bring more stuff by air etc. Take different, much longer routes. But a 10% degradation of supplies is enough to slowly, slowly choke of the occupation forces capabilities. It is their obvious week point and it is only a question of time now.

Posted by: b | Dec 7, 2008 9:42:08 AM | 5


I beg to disagree. I see no difference between the contention that the invaders are in trouble in Afghanistan now with the contention that the same invaders were in trouble in Iraq five years ago (airport, supply routes, etc.) This just provides a convenient excuse to up the violence, and until they have sufficiently upped that violence, and are STILL in trouble, I can't see it your way.

To my mind, all of this just gives an excuse to step in and dismantle Pakistan, cleaving off Baluchistan. That's a big goal, and I'm not sure if they will be successful, but that -- to my mind -- is -- as I detailed elsewhere last night -- one of the five clear geopoitical goals of the current disorder. (Disorder is almost always a good thing when instituting undemocratic change.)

Is it possible that China can be brought about to allow this course of action by sanctioning the continued sale of US based multi-national assets to them in exchange?

Posted by: Malooga | Dec 7, 2008 10:02:07 AM | 6

#5 b: More than 160 Humvees and trucks that need replacing and transport at government contract pricing is great for Daddy Warbucks and not bad for his right hand man Punjab.

Posted by: plushtown | Dec 7, 2008 10:06:56 AM | 7

We are disturbed by increasing violence, but such violence is merely a useful means to an end for them. Violence can always be ended by cash payment -- once the local economy has been destroyed by that violence and people are starving. For example, the "surge" with cash payments to Sunnis and possibly Sadr, and drug revenues up til now in Afghanistan. Violence is ALWAYS a useful tactic, because, at the very least, it promotes inequality, which is always one of the goals (now called "democracy-building") of imperial conquest, and one of the means of controlling people.

Again, as I said last night, we can measure the deleterious effects of such tactics upon the lives of real people very quickly, but the success or failure of geopolitical strategies can only be measured in decades. So-called "hotspots," that is to say, areas where the empire is probing, pushing, but not yet fully committed as conditions haven't ripened or the target hasn't been "softened up" enough yet, as Iraq was 20-30 years ago, and Lebanon and Iran (and Pakistan), Burma, Venezela, Sudan, Cuba, Zimbabwe, etc. are today can go through periods of quiescence between flare-ups. Such relative stability, or quiescence, does not mean that the long-term geo-strategic planning of Empire has necessarily failed.

Or to put it another way, freedom and justice must be won anew by each generation.

Posted by: Malooga | Dec 7, 2008 10:26:33 AM | 8

The BBC has given this story a fair amount of play today - and this includes pictures of burn trucks, containers and military vehicles at the depot.

This was a serious "hit".

The logical evolution from this is to target the Karachi port infrastructure that is the key node in the logistics chain.

Posted by: dan | Dec 7, 2008 10:35:25 AM | 9

Malooga: what is the strategic purpose of cleaving off "Baluchistan", from Pakistan?

Posted by: seneca | Dec 7, 2008 12:12:45 PM | 10

@Malooga - I expect the empire to fail when the financial negatives of being empire exceed the financial positives. That's the way the British empire ended. The colonies were a liability, not assets. We may already be at that point even if the recognition has yet not set in.

Afghanistan is different from Iraq in several aspects:
- operation there is much more expensive (due to supply lines etc.)
- the 'enemy' has through the drug economy significant resources
With Pakistan the U.S. again underestimates nationalism in my view.
China watches but does not intervene. It does not need to as the U.S. makes many mistakes by itself and will ruin itself at a point.

@dan - yes it was a serious hit. The harbor infrastructure of Karachi though is a rather well guarded target. There are a 1000 miles of roads the trucks have to take. They can be attacked anywhere along that track together with gas stations, repair facilities, resting places.

Last week an important bridge was nearly blown up on the way up to Peshawar (not reported in western media). At the next attempt it may well go down. The Pakistani security forces which supposed to guard the trucks on their way up are not well motivated to support transport for the U.S. (and that is the understatement of the day).

Posted by: b | Dec 7, 2008 12:19:18 PM | 11

M of A (along with China Hand, and the old Whiskey Bar) continue to have the best analysis of events in and around Pakistan, even when the dont always have their facts straight.

The recent violence in Karachi is almost certainly NOT "gun fights between Pashtun and Punjabi people". I don't blame you for not knowing this. Pakistani press is too stupid and timid to really report on what is happening. The story in Daily Times that you link to is typical of Pakistani reporting: "100 miscreants carrying arms and are affiliated with both groups, were arrested". Which groups, motherf*****?!

The violence is most likely anti-Pashtun pogroms by the death squads of the MQM. Here is an op-ed in Jang that does a slightly better job.

The head of MQM death squad openly operates out of London. Its a good thing that there is no symmetry in the GWOT, otherwise Pakistan would threaten to start bombing targets in London unless the UK government handed over the terrorist. Buckingham Palace is such a beautiful building.

Posted by: jawad | Dec 7, 2008 1:15:29 PM | 12

@seneca - what is the strategic purpose of cleaving off "Baluchistan", from Pakistan?

I layed out some (back in April 2005!) of these in Free Baluchistan

There are several parties who have strategic interests in Baluchistan.

The United States is still dreaming of a gas pipeline from the Turkmenistan south through Afghanistan and Baluchistan to the Arabian see. Long term troop stationing in landlocked Afghanistan will also demand a safe line of communication to a seaport.

India wants a gas pipeline from Iran eastward through Baluchistan to Delhi.

But the biggest interest in Baluchistan is Chinese. All sea traffic from the Middle Easter resource fields and East Africa to China now has to go through the Malacca Strait and also pass India and the Philippines. Strategically it is a nightmare to keep this route open in case of a hot or cold global conflict.
But the strategic interest of the U.S. does differ from Pakistan's. A completely U.S. controlled Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Baluchistan pipeline would be nice. To advert an Iran-Baluchistan-India pipeline would help U.S. interests against Iran and to deny China access to the Arabian sea checks the upcoming competitor. (As does keeping a hand on Unacol)

Posted by: b | Dec 7, 2008 1:16:56 PM | 13

@jawad - well there were dead people on both sides and the fighting was ethnic (and class) based. I did not know that MQM thugs were behind it (I saw sources who pointed to RAW), thanks for that piece of the puzzle.

My main point with regard to the above was that Karachi is far from stable and that serious Taliban action there is a future possibility.

Posted by: b | Dec 7, 2008 1:28:53 PM | 14

The "frame" I see in my mind is the historic pattern..... for centuries one empire after another (both from the East and from the West) has wished to subdue this tribal area for easier access to the other side. These efforts have ALWAYS been defeated.

Now the United States thinks it can accomplish what no other empire has done.

The new wrinkle is that the U.S. DOESN'T CARE how many convoys are lost, how many transport vehicles are blown up or stolen, how much cargo is lost, or how many lives are lost. All this is true so long as there are $$$$ in the Pentagon to pay for replacements at vastly inflated prices.

And there will ALWAYS be money available from the Pentagon because Congress members are easily bribed to make sure the money is there.

If the money actually is growing a little short, the Federal Reserve Bank gets busy and prints some more $$$$. Never mind if it throws the whole world of finance out of kilter,

I think that (finances out of kilter) is part of the game plan too.

And what about the lives lost on both sides in these conflicts?

Well, gee whiz, there's already too many people for the planet to feed anyway.

And so the thinking goes.

The world's PEOPLE have got to throw a monkey wrench into this pattern. But how do we do it???

Posted by: AuntEm | Dec 7, 2008 2:52:29 PM | 15

b, of course there are dead people on both sides. You don't go shoot up a Pashtun ghetto in Karachi and not get shot up yourself. What irks me is shallow reporting in the Pakistani media of the "bunch of people dead, two groups must have shot each other" variety. One can report on any pogrom this way, without leaving home.

Of course, I dont disagree with your main point. Its easy to start up a shooting war in Karachi. We dont know what or who set off the MQM death squads. Its possible that MQM death squads are being prepared to join the GWOT against the Pashtun race. There are hardly any Punjabi or Pashtun militias in Karachi. Only PPP and MQM have that kind of muscle. The two butchered each other in the 80's and 90's gang warfare, but both are now allies in the Zalme Khalizad empire. I dont think MQM is on AQ or Taliban's immediate list of targets.

Posted by: Jawad | Dec 7, 2008 3:05:49 PM | 16

AP is reporting that one of the men arrested yesterday in the Mumbai bombing probe is an Indian intelligence insider. Even the Clinton loving centrist TPM smells a rat">rat

Posted by: jawad | Dec 7, 2008 3:14:36 PM | 17

@Jawad - I'll have to look into the MQM stand more to say something about that. I thought they were just a Musharraf supporting entity but I just read they are mostly Sindh?! Hey - Pakistan IS a complicate country :-)

@all -
Barnett R. Rubin and Ahmed Rashid in Foreign Affairs (I don't agree with all of it, but they get the overall situation and various strategic interests mostly right in my view)

From Great Game to Grand Bargain - Ending Chaos in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Lowering regional tensions would allow the Afghan government to have a more meaningful dialogue with those insurgents who are willing to disavow al Qaeda and take part in the political process. The key to this would be the series of security measures the contact group should offer Pakistan, thereby encouraging the Pakistani army to press -- or at least allow -- Taliban and other insurgent leaders on their soil to talk to Kabul.

The goal of the next U.S. president must be to put aside the past, Washington's keenness for "victory" as the solution to all problems, and the United States' reluctance to involve competitors, opponents, or enemies in diplomacy. A successful initiative will require exploratory talks and an evolving road map. Today, such suggestions may seem audacious, naive, or impossible, but without such audacity there is little hope for Afghanistan, for Pakistan, or for the region as a whole.

Or better: Washington (and NATO) should simply leave and let the locals sort out the mess ...

Posted by: b | Dec 7, 2008 3:24:16 PM | 18

Don't how many if any caught this post in the last Afghanistan thread so I thought I re-post it here.

The Archipelago of Fear

Are fortification and foreign aid making Kabul more dangerous?

"International surveys show that the more people trust their neighbours, strangers, and their government, the more likely they are to help strangers, to vote, and to volunteer. If better streets, sidewalks, walls, and buildings all improve the ways people engage with one another, then the reverse should also be true: antagonistic architecture can corrode trust and fuel hostility. Kabul just might be a laboratory of urban toxicity"

as well as this article...

Who Are the Taliban? The Afghan War Deciphered

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 7, 2008 4:44:00 PM | 19

Jawad--your link from this "Even the Clinton loving centrist TPM smells a rat" doesn't work.

Is this the link? If so, the story has two regional Indian police departments at odds with one another. The trials and tribulations of undercover work--or not....

And, you are being sarcastic about the "Clinton loving" part of Josh Marshall's "centrIsm," right?

Posted by: jawbone | Dec 7, 2008 6:01:07 PM | 20

Rocket fired at different parts of Peshawar

PESHAWAR: Rockets were fired at different locations in Peshawar after which fire erupted meanwhile, fire tenders were called at the scene, sources said.

According to details, Peshawar was shaken by the rocket explosions, which were fired from five different locations on to Link road Truck station.

It is pertinent to mention here that link road truck stand was intermediate stopping place for container and truck taking supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Posted by: b | Dec 7, 2008 11:54:25 PM | 21

Today: Nato supplies torched in Pakistan

A terminal for lorries used to supply Nato and US forces in Afghanistan has been attacked in northwest Pakistan, the second such incident in as many days.

Witnesses said scores of containers full of supplies were burned in Monday's attack at a site in the city of Peshawar.

Altaf Hussain, a labourer at the terminal, said there was a loud explosion and several fighters stormed the facility.

"The militants came just past midnight, firing in the air, sprinkled petrol on containers and then set them on fire," Mohammad Zaman, a security guard at the terminal on the Peshawar ring road, said.

"They told us they would not harm us, but they asked us not to work for the Americans."

Rockets were also fired at two vehicles carrying goods intended for delivery to Nato forces as they travelled along the ring road overnight.
A Taliban spokesman told Al Jazeera two weeks ago that such attacks would continue "until the [Afghan] government and the Americans are smashed".

Posted by: b | Dec 8, 2008 4:37:14 AM | 22

I'm late to this thread but it just occurred to me that maybe Pakistan is "looking the other way' while militants burn a few hummers just to drop a hint to the U.S. "If you make things bad for U.S. some nasty things could end up happening to you."

Just a thought.

Posted by: Lysander | Dec 8, 2008 3:53:27 PM | 23

@b #11:

I expect the empire to fail when the financial negatives of being empire exceed the financial positives. That's the way the British empire ended. The colonies were a liability, not assets. We may already be at that point even if the recognition has yet not set in.

I don’t see the Empire as anywhere near that point yet, even though the end could come swiftly. What will be the cost to the world and its people?

And what will happen: The British empire failed, and the Anglo elite made a pact to be junior partner to the US elite. The ultra wealthy did not suffer, but flourished even more, and the poor of the world, except for India did not benefit. Now even the Indian elite are at war with their peasants (who are committing suicide in record numbers) in a way that can only make the US and European elite jealous.

Perhaps the US elite will make a pact with the Chinese elite and continue to flourish under the next -- equally vicious -- empire.

the operation there is much more expensive (due to supply lines etc.)

What are respective monthly costs?

the 'enemy' has through the drug economy significant resources

Have not significant amounts of that cash been funnelled into the US black budget through special ops?

Posted by: Malooga | Dec 8, 2008 5:30:20 PM | 24

6 Afghan police, civilian killed in mistaken U.S. strike

KABUL — Authorities say that U.S. forces mistakenly killed six Afghan police and a civilian after the police fired on the Americans during an operation.

A U.S. military statement says the deaths early Wednesday resulted from a “tragic case of mistaken identity on both parts.”

The statement says the police fired on the U.S. forces after the troops battled and killed an armed militant close to a police station in the city of Qalat, the capital of Zabul province. Thirteen Afghans were wounded in the firefight.

Gilani Khan, the deputy provincial police chief, says the attack collapsed the police station's roof.

Posted by: b | Dec 10, 2008 5:41:19 AM | 25

Kandahar base braces for wave of U.S. troops

Engineers say they're planning an $850-million (U.S.) expansion of Kandahar Air Field in the coming year, approximately doubling the population of the sprawling facility to make it the largest military base in Afghanistan. That means space available for a minimum of 12,000 more personnel to stand alongside Canada's troops in Kandahar.
For years, the largest military facility in the country has been Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, the main hub for U.S. forces concentrated in the mountainous eastern region where the Taliban insurgents are reportedly mixed with other extremists such as al-Qaeda fighters.

Now the balance of American power appears to be shifting south, toward the deserts and river valleys where the Taliban were born and a majority of the insurgents are local tribesmen.

"It will be quite a bit bigger than Bagram," said Lieutenant-Colonel John Uptmor, a U.S. engineer who is leading the U.S. expansion at KAF.
One of the most expensive buildings under construction is a $35-million (U.S.) hospital, twice the size of KAF's current medical facility.
The new hospital will be made of concrete strong enough to resist the 107-millimetre rockets that regularly slam into the base, like several other buildings under construction. Even the new Italian restaurant is equipped with thick concrete walls, giving a more permanent appearance than the Tim Hortons, Subway and Burger King outlets all camped in modified trailers.
KAF's waste-water treatment facility, nicknamed Emerald Lake because of its unnatural colour, was originally designed for 5,000 people and now strains to cope with the effluent from at least 12,000 people at KAF on any given day.

It will eventually be replaced by a sewage plant capable of serving 30,000 people, Col. Horgan said, but the plant may not be ready for 12 to 18 months.

Posted by: b | Dec 10, 2008 5:53:15 AM | 26

Malooga @ 24

The British empire failed, and the Anglo elite made a pact to be junior partner to the US elite. The ultra wealthy did not suffer, but flourished even more

The ultra-wealthy stratum of the UK was basically re-invented post-Suez by Macmillan (the socio-economic sub-text of Swinging London). The 'ruling elites' had already been decimated by WW1 and post-war Labour capital gains/death duties more or less wiped out the old-fashioned aristocracy (Her Maj being an honourable exception). The wealthy of post-war UK were what the aristos, huddling in their crumbling, unheated mansions and praying for a buy-out from the National Trust, sneeringly called 'New Money.'

Of course the great banks - Barings, Hambros etc - kept their noses far above the mud, but then again they were more or less nation-states in their own right. The whole 'junior partner' idea is radically disproved by Suez, a ritual humiliation of the UK at the hands of the US which led, essentially, to a fundamental re-think of 'Britain' and 'British-ness.' In my mind what we now understand as the Special Relationship doesn't go further back than Reagan/Thatcher.

That's just to say that in this instance the Empire really did fail and, for almost all Britons, there was an abrupt break. There just isn't any significant cultural or historical continuity between the pre- and post-WW2 UK.

Posted by: Tantalus | Dec 10, 2008 9:10:13 AM | 27

A lovely article from the London Times:

Taleban tax: allied supply convoys pay their enemies for safe passage

A security company owner explained that a vast array of security companies competed for the trade along the main route south of Kabul, some of it commercial traffic and some supplying Western bases, usually charging about $1,000 (£665) a lorry. Convoys are typically of 40-50 lorries but sometimes up to 100.

Asked whether his company paid money to Taleban commanders not to attack them, he said: “Everyone is hungry, everyone needs to eat. They are attacking the convoys because they have no jobs. They easily take money not to attack.” He said that until about 14 months ago, security companies had been able to protect convoys without paying. But since then, the attacks had become too severe not to pay groups controlling the route. Attacks on the Kandahar road have been an almost daily occurrence this year. On June 24 a 50-truck convoy of supplies was destroyed. Seven drivers were beheaded by the roadside. The situation now was so extreme that a rival company, working south of the city of Ghazni, had Taleban fighters to escort their convoys.

“Mostly the [Afghan] security companies have middlemen to negotiate the passage of the convoys, so they don't get attacked. They pay on a convoy by convoy basis to let the convoy pass at a certain time. They have to pay each of the Taleban commanders who control each part of the road. When you hear of an attack it is usually because a new small [Taleban] group has arrived on the road.”

Posted by: Alex | Dec 12, 2008 2:06:26 AM | 28

Taleban tax: allied supply convoys pay their enemies for safe passage

The controversial payments were confirmed by several fuel importers, trucking and security company owners. None wanted to be identified because of the risk to their business and their lives. “We estimate that approximately 25 per cent of the money we pay for security to get the fuel in goes into the pockets of the Taleban,” said one fuel importer.

Another boss, whose company is subcontracted to supply to Western military bases, said that as much as a quarter of the value of a lorry's cargo went in paying Taleban commanders.

The scale of the supplies needed to keep the Nato military operation going is vast. The main British base at Camp Bastion in Helmand province alone requires more than a million litres of diesel and aviation fuel a week. There are more than 70,000 foreign soldiers in the country for whom food and equipment must be imported, mostly by road. The US is planning to send at least 20,000 more troops into Afghanistan next year.
Asked whether his company paid money to Taleban commanders not to attack them, he said: “Everyone is hungry, everyone needs to eat. They are attacking the convoys because they have no jobs. They easily take money not to attack.” He said that until about 14 months ago, security companies had been able to protect convoys without paying. But since then, the attacks had become too severe not to pay groups controlling the route.

You can rent them for a while, but you will never own them ...

Posted by: b | Dec 12, 2008 2:46:14 PM | 29

Militants launch fresh attack on NATO supply route

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Militants attacked a terminal in northwest Pakistan early today that is used by vehicles ferrying supplies to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The raiders torched 11 trucks along the outskirts of Peshawar, the main city in the region that borders the lawless, militant-plagued tribal belt and is a key stop for vehicles traversing the famed Khyber Pass.

Posted by: b | Dec 14, 2008 2:21:17 AM | 30

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