The fresh wave of insecurity in Afghanistan

Create: 06/30/2015 - 10:52

The June 21 attack on Afghan parliament was widely covered by the national and international media, without Afghan security officialsanswering serious questions regarding the incident. US-supported media outlets in Afghanistan were busy in discussions on the legitimacy and illegitimacy of parliament.
They suddenly turned into staunch supporters of parliament, slamming the Taliban assault as a brazen attempt at “crushing the dignity of the nation’s home by the enemies”. In order toevade the serious questions that need rational answers, the media started glorifying the army soldier who claimed killing six of the attackers without wasting any bullet.
Meanwhile, 1st Vice President Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum and Balkh’s acting governorAtta Mohammad Noor formed an alliance to contain Taliban’s expansion in northern Afghanistan. Where is the country headed when the vice president, instead of mobilising the national army, resorts to raising militias?
Why symbolic attacks?
Selective and symbolic attacks, usually taking place when all media outlets are focused on a particular event, have value to the Taliban. Such assaults may not cause high casualties and sometimes may give the impression the Taliban have weakened.
But this impression is not important for Taliban. What is important is the impact of such attacks on people’s minds within and without the country. That clearly depicts the weakness of the government.
Such attacks are like a theatre where the actors try to influence the audience. Some years back, the Taliban attacked an event marking the anniversary of Mujahidin’s Independence Day. Scenes of fleeing military personnel in their stylish uniform were aired internationally and the government has since stopped organising such events.
A stop to holding such gatherings in an open area was a triumph for the Taliban. In the past,these celebratory functions -- attended by the general public -- were an expression of good relations between the government and the people.
The attack on parliament was more symbolic than the one on Mujahidin’s Independence Day function. The second vice-president was introducing the defence minister-designate for a vote of confidence. Just before their entry,a loud car bombing filled the house with dust and smoke. And thus the event was postponed.
After storming the Mujahidin Independence Day function on April 27, 2008, the Taliban released a video of the attack. The clips showed the elements from the so-called centre of command watching the event on TV. When the national anthem was played, the audience stood as a mark of respect, One of the people calls the attackers and gives him order by shouting Allah-O-Akbar (God is Great).
Who is behind the audacious attack?
When the Taliban attacked the Saur event, theassailants were in a building near the parade venue and they could understand when to strike. But the plot of the parliament attack is more complicated. As the video from inside the house shows, the carbomb exploded when the vice president and the defence minister nominee were about to enter the lower house.
Those leading the operation watched the moments on TV. When the speaker announced the vice president and the defence minister-designate are entering the house, the explosion tookplace. The timing of the explosion shows who are behind the audacious attack.
According to witnesses, the vehicle was like a bulletproof Land Cruiser with tinted glasses. The assailants in army uniforms got off the vehicle that was crashed into the southern checkpoint. The attackers launched RPG fire on the house from the main road before trying to force their way into a building under construction.
Usually, after such attacks, the first question posed is: How do the assailants manage to enter the high-security area. It has happened several times during the last decade in Kabul. Every time the authorities have promised investigations, but results have never been announced.
New alliance in the north:
Although the attackers could not enter the parliament building, the incident has earned the national unity government a lot of criticism. One strange point is that the Taliban claimed responsibility but, contrary to theirpast practice, avoided giving details. Instead the Taliban websitewas full of reports about fighting in the Chahar Dara of Kunduz province. Though they promised releasing the details of the attack, yet nothing is known so far.
Before the attack on parliament, the Taliban captured two districts in Kunduz. Recent developments in the north have caused concerns among some leaders there. Atta Mohammad Noor, the Balkh governor, formed a coalition with Abdul Rashid Dostum, leader of the Junbish Millie party.
The weakness of government to prevent the attack on parliament may be seen as a justification for formation of the alliance.Dostum says if allowed by the government, he would mobilise 20,000 militiamen to fight against Taliban. The militia will either kill the fighters or force them to surrender.
When Afghanistan has more than 350,000security personnel, whose maintenance has accounted for billions of dollars over the last 13 years, why does Dostum insists on raising militias? It clearly shows he is not taking the police and army seriously and feels the need for local powers to defeat the Taliban.
The Taliban have carried out some symbolic attacks along with some organised strikes, As a result, they have succeeded in capturingsome districts. Though the militants have made no major military achievements, their attacks have definitely fuelled concerns among the security forces that sort of the fifth column within the governmentis assisting them.
Though some media outlets have tried to lionise a soldier for killing the six attackersto prove that the Afghan troops are ready to deal with any Taliban assault. The recent alliance between Dostum and Noor expresses the bitter realty that even the media cannot ignore. Are the leaders in the north concerned about Syria-type incidents in Afghanistan?
Though some consider the alliance in the north a positive step toward tackling the Taliban, it shows the weakness of the central government and will push Afghanistan back into feudalism and warlordism, witnessed after Dr. Najibullah’s defeat in the late 1990s.
The nation hoped with the advent of democracy, ethnic tendencies will be curbed and a strong central government come into being. But now with the weakness of the central government, local powers are back in action once again.Keeping in view their concerns regarding developments in Afghanistan, neighbouring countries will try to find proxies amongst the local actors -- something that will lead the county toward a proxy war.
With the courtesy of the Centre for Strategic & Regional Studies.