In a major blow for the US and NATO military effort in Afghanistan, the parliament of Kyrgyzstan voted Thursday formally to end US use of Manas Air Force base to resupply troops in nearby Afghanistan. With the effective closure of the Khyber Pass route into Afghanistan from Pakistan, this step endangers the logistics supply line to the US and NATO troops. The move comes in part as a result of Russian aid to Kyrgyzstan. Russia and the Shanghai Cooperation Council have long been concerned about the expansion of US military and political influence into Central Asia.
With the Pakistani route under severe pressure and the closing of the Manas base to the US,t is hard to see how the 17,000 new US troops to be sent to Afghanist can be provisioned (see above)
The UN has announced that the 2008 poppy crop in Afghanistan was the second biggest on record. Poppies are used to make heroin and 40 percent of the profits appear to go to warlords, fueling narco-terrorism.
Polling done by the Canadian military in Qandahar province, in Afghanistan’s troubled southeast, shows that confidence in the government of president Hamid Karzai has plummeted over the past year to 25 percent from 55 percent.
As many as 20 percent of the people in Qandahar, who are western Pushtuns, say they favor Taliban rule. (This statistic, of 15-20 percent support for Taliban, is higher than in past soundings; the Taliban were widely despised in Afghanistan).
Many Afghans are anxious that the US will escalate violence in the Pushtun regions through aerial bombardment of suspected Taliban targets (a tactic that sometimes kills innocent villagers):
McClatchy says that the arrival of US troops in Wardak, 40 mi. from the capital of Kabul has raised anxieties with the local population.
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