RealNews

Afghan Militias Cling To Power in North

The Balkh Gate looks like any other traffic post along a busy rural highway. Bored police run an eye over crammed minibuses, poke their rifles among wheat sacks piled atop farm trucks, and then wave the vehicles on into this provincial capital. But the gate is a valuable, hotly contested piece of political and military turf that has just been liberated, under considerable national and foreign pressure, from the clutches of local militia forces who squeezed hefty fees from drivers and protected the movement of their allies’ men and weapons through the area. “It’s much better now,” said Nasrullah, 25, a driver whose wheezing truck full of wheat, beans and farmhands was being inspected at the gate Sunday. “The old police forced me to pay about 50 Afghanis [$1] every time I came into the city. The new ones treat us much better, and they say I don’t have to pay anything at all.” Full Story

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