The main thing that would likely make the Taliban in Afghanistan happy is if President Hamid Karzai never signs Washington’s security agreement that would continue U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan. Considering their activities, one has to wonder why Karzai is dragging his heels. Unless he’s secretly in bed with the Taliban, he stands to lose control of his country just as soon as the last sets of U.S. troop boots steps off Afghan soil. The Taliban has just recently shown they are not only ready to take back the country, they actually can.
In what has been touted as the deadliest attack on foreign civilians since the U.S. military campaign of 2001, on the evening of Friday, January 17, a suicide bomber spearheaded an attack on a restaurant in Kabul known to be frequented by foreign nationals, killing 13. He set off the bomb, blowing himself up, and two gunmen followed, killing survivors. Among the 13 killed inside the restaurant were UN employees, Americans and other foreigners. The collateral damage brought the death toll to over 20.
The peace and reconciliation efforts likely suffered a severe blow as Afghanistan’s security transitions is set to begin in April. The district police chief and several officers were suspended for failing to prevent the attack. That in and of itself seems like simple scapegoating. Who in his right mind are going to run up on a suicide bomber protected by two gunmen, as well as the whole issue with gathering intelligence before the attack.
Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban insurgency, claiming responsibility for the act, told the Voice of America that by penetrating a heavily protected section of Kabul, they are proving that they have the means to take back Afghanistan. The attack was supposedly in retaliation for a Wednesday airstrike that killed civilians in a village north of Kabul.
There has been a strong debate over civilians killed on both sides of the war on terrorism with Karzai’s strogest condemnation in this statement: “The war on terror will bear fruit when victims and terrorists are distinguished from each other and the elements of terror are fought against.” On the other side of the fence it has been pointed out that terrorists are responsible for killing more of its civilians than the coalition. Karzai has appointed a team to investigate the civilian casualties of Wednesday’s airstrike. He goes on to further say that if the UN wants to be the Afghan people’s allies, they should only target terrorism.
Since 9/11, this back and forth war on terrorism seems to have done nothing more than raise the body count of combatants and civilians alike and seems no closer to being resolved since the beginning. The Taliban still maintains a strong enough presence to warrant airstrikes. Al-Qaida is still around even after the death of Osama bin Laden. Violent splinter groups like the one in Egypt pop up almost weekly and everywhere, even in Britain, innocent Muslims are targeted because they are seen as the face of terrorism.
It is getting increasingly difficult to minimize collateral damage as the war on terrorism continues.
Editorial by Lee Birdine