In 1835 in the Alamo Fort, 1400 Mexican soldiers surrounded 189 Texans. The Mexicans assumed theirs would be an easy victory. In fact, the siege lasted an amazing 13 days. Eventually, of course, most of the defenders were killed. However, their tenacious martyrdom inspired Texans to flock to the banner of Sam Houston, who went on to kick the butt of the Mexican dictator, Santa Anna.
I note that the Shah-i-Kot battle, which was supposed to be over within 24 hours, has now lasted a week, and local Afghan military leaders expect it’ll take another week to kill or capture the remaining defenders.
Estimates of the original number of defenders ranged from the absurdly low 50 to the unreasonably inflated 1000 – the figure is probably between 500-700. The defenders were fighting not only for their own lives, but also for those of their families — many women and children were known to be hiding in their cave fortress.
Pentagon officials estimate they have killed around “half” of those present. With unchallenged air support, the use of thermobaric weaponry that crushes, suffocates, and poisons its victims, and around a thousand Afghan troops loyal to the central government, the US nevertheless had to pour in reinforcements, bringing its ground forces deployment to 1,200, with 200 other Western soldiers.
Meanwhile, the Afghan central government is sending another 1,000 troops to the Pashtun province, backed up by tanks, as they install a non-Pashtun Northern Alliance commander.
The US-backed leader, Karzai, said “We are determined to finish them and send them to hell“. The UN is investigating reports of ethnic cleansing and terror against the Pashtuns by the Northern Alliance, and a Human Rights Watch report says violence against the Pashtuns has become pandemic.
The defenders in Shah-i-Kot will undoubtedly be defeated, and most of them annihilated. But in the war-obsessed culture of Afghanistan jihad-oriented fundamentalist Islam, they will become inspirational martyrs for a new generation.
Instead of choosing a “police emergency” approach, the emotive “War” response to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center will transform marginalized criminals into proud warriors, and Al Qaeda will have their Afghan Alamo.
Perhaps their leader, Saif-ur-Rehman Mansoor, will become the Taliban’s Davy Crockett?
Mike Rogers was born in Ireland and now lives in San Francisco. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org