In less than a week, Taliban forces have been swept from most of northern Afghanistan, including the key cities of Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, Kunduz, Taloqan, Bamiyan, Jalalabad and the capital Kabul. The question is: How did a force that only two months ago controlled most of Afghanistan get swept from the battlefield so quickly, and is the battle over?

In the Saturday (November 17) issue of the Jang - the biggest daily paper in Pakistan, the well-known columnist Munnoo Bhai published extensive extracts from Alan's article The fall of Kabul with the comment that this is the "best analysis one can find anywhere". The Jang newspaper is read by up to 20 million people every day, and Munnoo Bhai's column is widely read.

The situation in Afghanistan after the dramatic fall of Kabul continues to give the British and Americans a headache. Washington is still trying to improvise a coherent strategy, making up its policy as it goes along. Bush's lackey, Tony Blair is having trouble keeping step. An update on the war by Alan Woods.

"The Marines have landed and the situation is under control." This kind of headline was very common in the 1930s, when the USA had a habit of intervening with tedious regularity in the territory of small states in Central America. Now history seems to be repeating itself - but with a difference. The marines referred to here are, of course, American. While the US marine corps is grabbing the headlines of the world press, a couple of hundred British marines are kicking their heels on the outskirts of Bagram airstrip, while a couple of thousand of their comrades are kept hanging around on army bases in Britain, unloved and unwanted, while Tony Blair fumes in impotent humiliation.

"It was quite amusing to hear the reports on the radio that a column of American tanks was advancing on Kandahar. Since this glorious advance only took place after Kandahar had surrendered, this must have been the most painless "triumphal advance" in the history of warfare! This little incident is a good example of the kind of surrealism that has characterised this campaign from the beginning. Predictably, the Americans are shouting victory as loud as they can. Despite all the triumphalism, the real situation becomes clear if we ask ourselves concretely what has been achieved?" Alan Woods and Ted Grant review the latest developments in the Afghan war.

This well researched book was written (by Ahmed Rashid) before the events of September 11th 2001. The author is a journalist who has worked in Afghanistan since 1979. It has been described by The Guardian as the book which is being read by Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell, who allegedly have been heavily influenced by the book. Do not let that deter you from reading this book! It remains to be seen if they have really been influenced by it.

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