McClatchy News – 20/07/11
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN The assassination of President Hamid Karzai’s half brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, along with the recent attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in the heart of the capital in Kabul, underscore the increasingly fragile security situation in Afghanistan.
Both events occurred soon after U.S. President Barack Obama announced his intention to begin withdrawing 30,000 “surge” troops beginning this month, with a goal of removing all American forces by the end of 2014.
With the death of Osama bin Laden and claims that his terror network had been crippled in Afghanistan, the president suggested the United States and its international partners had done all they could in the country.
Afghans would have to assume responsibility for security in Afghanistan, the president said.
The hotel attack, however, immediately raised questions about the Afghan military’s capabilities, with eight terrorists successfully overwhelming one of the most secure places in the capital. It was only after NATO helicopters were called in after an all-night firefight that the siege was brought to an end.
While many complain the assault laid bare the weakness of Afghanistan’s security forces, with some guards reportedly fleeing after the first shots were fired, others note that their response was about as good as could have been expected, given the Afghan forces’ level of equipment and training.
What the attack on the hotel did show was the pervasive presence of the Taliban and their growing alliance with other anti-government forces all across the country.
These insurgents in recent months have steadily ratcheted up the size, frequency and effectiveness of these attacks, while showing an alarming ability to penetrate seemingly impenetrable places.
Recent events included the wholesale escape of nearly 500 Talban captives from a prison in the southern province of Kandahar; the dramatic attack on the defence ministry headquarters in Kabul; and the suicide attack on a high-level military meeting in the northern Takhar province that killed one of Afghanistan’s best commanders and injured a NATO general.
Indeed, the list seems to grow daily.