Karzai Escapes Assassination Attempt

In the "forgotten war" that is Afghanistan, NATO forces continue their efforts to eradicate the Taliban and other extremists who threaten the Afghan government of President Karzai.

They have met with uneven success - partly due to a force structure more attuned to  building the country rather than fighting a low intensity insurgency as well as a lack of cooperation from Pakistan in closing their border and preventing the Taliban from enjoying a safe haven in the tribal areas.

Today, the war came to Kabul with an assassination attempt on President Karzai:

President Hamid Karzai survived an assassination attempt at a military parade in central Kabul on Sunday, when suspected Taliban insurgents fired mortars and bullets at the dignitaries assembled in the spectator stands.
Two people were killed, a tribal chief and a parliamentarian, and 11 injured in the incident, officials said. Two parliamentarians in a section of the stands not far from the president were seen falling from their chairs on television footage as gunfire rang out. Loud explosions could be heard some distance from the parade ground.
The president was whisked out of the back of the stands and quickly left the scene in a convoy of black armored vehicles as spectators scrambled for cover and security guards opened fire in every direction, witnesses said. The American ambassador, William Wood, also left unharmed, a spokesman told news agencies. Afghan state television, which was showing the ceremony live, cut off its coverage as people fled the scene.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said that it had disrupted the ceremony to show that it could carry out an attack anywhere in Afghanistan. "We cannot say Afghanistan is free. Afghanistan is still under the domination of infidels. This ceremony being held by Mujahadeen is baseless," Zabiullah Mujahed, a Taliban spokesman, said when contacted by telephone.

Unfortunately, the Taliban spokesman is correct when he says that the terrorists can now strike anywhere in Afghanistan although every time there is a concentration of them, NATO troops intervene and break them up. And there are encouraging signs that the Afghan army is beginning to round into shape - although as an effective fighting force, it still leaves much to be desired.

There is a crisis in NATO at the moment. With the exception of the US, Canada, and the Dutch, no nation seems willing to commit actual combat troops to the fight in Afghanistan. The immediate need is an additional 5,000 combat troops in the south to bolster the Canadians and Dutch who are bearing the brunt of the fighting right now.

French President Sarkozy has promised an additional 700 troops - but it is unclear what their role will be. But Germany and the rest of NATO are refusing which may cause the Canadians to re-evaluate their committment later in the year. If Canada were to leave Afghanistan, it would place additional burdens on American and Great Britian - burdens that are by no means certain to be met.

We are not losing in Afghanistan - yet. But the brazen attack on Karzai shows how badly a change is needed by NATO in order to prevent the situation from getting any worse.

In the "forgotten war" that is Afghanistan, NATO forces continue their efforts to eradicate the Taliban and other extremists who threaten the Afghan government of President Karzai.

They have met with uneven success - partly due to a force structure more attuned to  building the country rather than fighting a low intensity insurgency as well as a lack of cooperation from Pakistan in closing their border and preventing the Taliban from enjoying a safe haven in the tribal areas.

Today, the war came to Kabul with an assassination attempt on President Karzai:

President Hamid Karzai survived an assassination attempt at a military parade in central Kabul on Sunday, when suspected Taliban insurgents fired mortars and bullets at the dignitaries assembled in the spectator stands.
Two people were killed, a tribal chief and a parliamentarian, and 11 injured in the incident, officials said. Two parliamentarians in a section of the stands not far from the president were seen falling from their chairs on television footage as gunfire rang out. Loud explosions could be heard some distance from the parade ground.
The president was whisked out of the back of the stands and quickly left the scene in a convoy of black armored vehicles as spectators scrambled for cover and security guards opened fire in every direction, witnesses said. The American ambassador, William Wood, also left unharmed, a spokesman told news agencies. Afghan state television, which was showing the ceremony live, cut off its coverage as people fled the scene.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said that it had disrupted the ceremony to show that it could carry out an attack anywhere in Afghanistan. "We cannot say Afghanistan is free. Afghanistan is still under the domination of infidels. This ceremony being held by Mujahadeen is baseless," Zabiullah Mujahed, a Taliban spokesman, said when contacted by telephone.

Unfortunately, the Taliban spokesman is correct when he says that the terrorists can now strike anywhere in Afghanistan although every time there is a concentration of them, NATO troops intervene and break them up. And there are encouraging signs that the Afghan army is beginning to round into shape - although as an effective fighting force, it still leaves much to be desired.

There is a crisis in NATO at the moment. With the exception of the US, Canada, and the Dutch, no nation seems willing to commit actual combat troops to the fight in Afghanistan. The immediate need is an additional 5,000 combat troops in the south to bolster the Canadians and Dutch who are bearing the brunt of the fighting right now.

French President Sarkozy has promised an additional 700 troops - but it is unclear what their role will be. But Germany and the rest of NATO are refusing which may cause the Canadians to re-evaluate their committment later in the year. If Canada were to leave Afghanistan, it would place additional burdens on American and Great Britian - burdens that are by no means certain to be met.

We are not losing in Afghanistan - yet. But the brazen attack on Karzai shows how badly a change is needed by NATO in order to prevent the situation from getting any worse.