(On Screen): A spokesman for the new government of Afghanistan has demanded that the US stop the bombing there. He gives us 3 days which seems rather arbitrary, all the more so since that coincides with the end of the calendar year. But this war hasn't been fought to a schedule so far, and it's not clear why it should start now.
"Their remaining forces are few in number and may be annihilated in a maximum of three days and once this is done there is no need for the continuation of the bombing," spokesman Mohammad Habeel told Reuters.
"We demand America stop its bombing of Afghanistan after this goal is achieved," he said.
"Without the approval of local commanders and the Defense Ministry, America cannot bomb Afghanistan at will."
Well, actually we can bomb Afghanistan at will. The last couple of months have demonstrated that rather conclusively. However, it's true that the presence of our people on the ground would make the situation rather unpleasant if the Afghan government decided to resist. All in all it might be better not to have that disagreement. But we also can't give up just because some tribal leaders in the hills are bitching.
I think we're seeing a situation where the government is not operating with a unified view of things. It is, after all, just getting organized. Also, we've seen that kind of thing before. (Remember when the Brits were told they couldn't bring anyone to Bagram airbase, and then later they were permitted to?) There may be people there who are beginning to think that we've gotten everything we need out of the Americans, and now we don't have to be nice any more. It's going to take someone reminding them that we in the US still have a choice about whether to provide them with rebuilding aid. It's not a foregone conclusion that we'll give it to them if they don't continue to cooperate with us on achieving our own military goals.
Update 20011230: The foreign minister now says that US air strikes should continue "as long as terrorist cells are in Afghanistan."