— The Erimtan Angle —

I heard about this suicide attack on the World Service this morning: ‘A suicide bomber targeted a group of politicians at a wedding in northernAfghanistan. The Taliban deny any involvement (14 July 2012)’.

The provinceof Samangan’s governor Khairullah Anosh said that “It was Ahmad Khan Samanganî’s daughter’s wedding. A suicide bomber blew himself up, killing and wounding dozens”.[1]  The Taliban have denied involvement and people have started pointing fingers at the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), described as “a key ally of Al Qaeda” by Western media. Ahmad Khan was an Uzbek and an erstwhile rival of the warlord Rashid Dostum . . . The news agency AFP elaborates that in ‘March, Afghan and international forces killed Makhdum Nusrat, a senior IMU leader in Afghanistan, in Faryab province, to the west of Samangan. The following month a suicide attack in Faryab killed 12 people, mostly civilians. Last year, a Taliban suicide attack killed General Daud Daud, a regional police commander and once Afghanistan’s most powerful anti-drug tsar, in Taloqan, the capital of Takhar province, also in the north. The wedding attack came the day after a provincial women’s affairs official in Laghman, east of Kabul, was killed and her husband and daughter critically wounded when a magnetic bomb attached to her vehicle exploded, police said. Laghman provincial government spokesman Sarhadi Zwak blamed Taliban insurgents for that attack’.[2]  It seems that at the moment, local rivalries and other calculations are being played out in various attacks, as a way of preparing the ground for 2014.

AFP gives this handy summary: the ‘Taliban have waged a bloody insurgency since their ouster from power following a US-led invasion shortly after the September 11, 2001attacks in the United States. Attacks by the Taliban kill hundreds of civilians every year, but many Afghans worry that security will worsen, or that civil war could reignite, when foreign forces pull out. There are currently around 130,000 international troops in Afghanistanand all NATO-led combat forces are due to leave by the end of 2014’.[3]  Writing in the New Yorker, Dexter Filkins points out that “the ethnic battle lines in Afghanistan have not changed. Pashtuns, who dominate both the government and the Taliban, are from the south; the ethnic minorities—Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, and many others—live mainly in the north. The capital, Kabul, is multiethnic and the focal point of all political and military ambition”.[4]  These battle lines will probably become charged again once the U.S. and its NATO allies leave the Hindu Kush mountains. The President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai used to be known as the Mayor of Kabul, and now it seems that he is not even able to secure his immediate surroundings anymore in view of the many audacious Taliban attacks in the capital. Nashir, the Khanabad governor, is quite bleak in his assessment of the situation: “Mark my words, the moment the Americans leave, the civil war will begin. This country will be divided into twenty-five or thirty fiefdoms, each with its own government . . . Mir Alam will take Kunduz. Atta will take Mazar-e-Sharif. Dostum will take Sheberghan. The Karzais will take Kandahar. The Haqqanis will take Paktika. If these things don’t happen, you can burn my bones when I die”.[5]  The Soviets entered Afghanistan only to leave in defeat, and now the Americans appear on the verge of doing the same. And Afghanistan will, once again, sink into a bloody civil war. In spite of the BBC’s glorious liberation of Kabul in 2001, as the vanguard of the U.S. and NATO forces, and the global success of the Kite Runner, life in Afghanistan appears set to return to its well-rehearsed cycle of violence by the middle of the 21st century’s second decade. . . Filkins’ article carries the sobering sub-title “Will civil war hitAfghanistan when theU.S. leaves?”.

[1] “Suicide bomber kills 22, wounds 40 at Afghan wedding” Reuters (14 July 2012). http://in2eastafrica.net/suicide-bomber-kills-22-wounds-40-at-afghan-wedding/.

[2] “Afghan MP killed in wedding bomb attack” AFP (15 July 2012). http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-07-14/mp-killed-in-afghanistan-bomb-attack/4130814.

[3] “Afghan MP killed in wedding bomb attack”.

[4] Dexter Filkins, “After America-2” The New Yorker (July 2012). http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/07/09/120709fa_fact_filkins?currentPage=2.


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