The Friends of California Libre...

11 November 2001

Afghanistan and the Reuters Photo

Greetings, friends,
If you want to know more about Afghanistan, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan have a good site at; you can even download patriotic music. Viva la revolucion!

I've been desperately groping for any kind of real news, now that Deutsche Welle is cut off, not only from television, but from the Internet as well. It seems more difficult to get streaming audio or video from European and Asian sources. Our so-called "news" mentions the capture of Mazar-e-Sharif without any background on the city. Here's the small amount I've gleaned (all from European sources, naturally):
Mazar-e-Sharif, second largest city in Afghanistan after Fayzabad, already controlled by the Northern Alliance, population ~100,000
Next to Balkh, ancient capital of the entire area, and the last great city conquered by Alexander the Great, destroyed by the Mongols
On the Silk Road from Istanbul to China, visited by Marco Polo, a major stop between the cities of Herat and Dushanbe; center of the "greenest" part of Afghanistan, along the Amu-Dar'ya (the Oxus River of antiquity), the main river feeding the Aral Sea
Most importantly, the home of the tomb of Ali, one of the holiest sites for Shi'ite Muslims. Ali was the cousin of Mohammed the prophet; when Mohammed died, some chose to follow Ali (Shi'ite) while most followed Abu Bakr, a friend of Mohammed who became the Caliph (Sunni). The Sunnis made their capital in Damascus and most of Islam, from Morocco to Indonesia, is now Sunni. After Ali was assassinated, the Shi'ites went underground; today only Iran, northern Afghanistan and parts of the Central Asian republics are Shi'ite. The Taliban are Sunni (more orthodox than Shi'ite). If you think the difference is inconsequential, I know a nice part of Belfast you can go hang out in, but say a Hail Mary first. So why isn't Dan Rather talking about this? The Shi'ites just took back their holiest city from the Sunni (with our ever-ready B-52 help) and are now moving on Herat. But that's another e-mail.

Here's just two bits about Herat:
Third largest city in Afghanistan (~250,000), and just across the border from Iran. It would reopen the Silk Road from Tehran to Dushanbe for the first time since we abandoned the Afghanis in 1989.

Pray for peace!

I've also enclosed an extremely creepy flyer, courtesy of our great military minds at work. If you can't open the attachment or your mail program can't open HTML, just click on the link below or paste it into an Internet browser. This leaflet we're dropping is the trippiest thing I've seen since 11 September. Reuters Photo
> >This is an image of leaflets being dropped over Afghanistan by the U.S. military showing crosshairs over an unidentified man and over the license plate of a car. The leaflets, dropped in Arabic as well, also had the words 'We are watching' emblazoned on them. (Department Of Defense via Reuters)

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