Sunday, April 27, 2008

Afghan President Hamid Karzai Assassination Attempt Fails:
So What?

Or, to be more polite, "what does it mean?"

What happened is pretty obvious, and has been well-covered:
  • "Germany's Merkel calls Karzai to express dismay, pledge ongoing support for Afghanistan"
    International Herald Tribune (Europe) (April 27, 2008)
  • "Canadian ambassador: Afghan president unharmed during deadly attack" (April 27, 2008)
  • "Karzai escapes deadly Taliban attack"
    CNN (April 27, 2008)
    "The attack occurred at a Mujahedeen Victory Day ceremony, observing the 16th anniversary of Afghanistan mujahedeen fighters' overthrow of President Mohammad Najibullah's Soviet-backed regime."
  • "Pranab condemns attack on Karzai"
    The Hindu (April 27, 2008)
    "Kolkata (PTI): External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday condemned the attack on Afghan President Hamid Karzai and called upon the international community to show zero tolerance towards terrorism.
    " 'I strongly condemn the dastardly attack on Hamid Karzai. We have been saying that there should be zero tolerance to terrorism,' he told newsmen after a function by the central Kolkata district Congress here."
  • "Pakistan strongly condemns Kabul attack"
    Xinhua, China - China View (April 27, 2008)
    "ISLAMABAD, April 27 (Xinhua) -- Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the attack on the ceremony commemorating the 16th anniversary of the Afghan nation.
    "In a statement issued here Sunday, Gilani said that Pakistanis were greatly relieved that no harm had come to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
    " 'We express our deep sorrow over the reported death of one person and injuries to eleven as a result of this dastardly attack,' he said."
The Afghani official presidential website didn't have anything to say about. Mr. Karzai's near-miss, but that may change. Besides, I suspect that he's a little occupied right now.

Why Blame the Taliban?

The Hindu reported that "suspected Taliban militants" launched the attack, and that the Taliban has claimed responsibility. Offhand, I'd say that the Taliban probably had a hand in this.

Particularly since Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujaheed gave details of the attack:
  • Six militants were deployed to target the president
  • Weaponry included guns, rockets and suicide vests
  • Three Talibani killed in the attack.
Non-Taliban sources failed to report any suicide bombiings. ("Afghan President Hamid Karzai Safe After Assassination Attempt" FOXNews (April 27, 2008)).

Taliban "Not Posing Any Threat" - 2007

This attack is a bit ironic, since last year Mr Karzai said that the Taliban was no threat. (Al Jazeera English "Taliban 'No Threat' Says Karzai - Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's president, has said the Taliban is 'not posing any threat; to his government ...." (More at "Taliban 'no threat' says Karzai" (Al Jazeera (August 06, 2007).)

And, Mr. Karzai seems to have been dealing with the Taliban in a very diplomatic manner: "Karzai wants US to stop arresting Taliban suspects: report (AFP (April 26, 2008)). "Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged US forces Saturday to stop arresting suspected Taliban and their sympathizers, arguing that these arrests and past mistreatment were discouraging Taliban from laying down their arms." "...'For the success of the world in Afghanistan, it would be better to recognize this inherent character in Afghanistan and work with it and support it,' .... 'Eventually, if the world is to succeed in Afghanistan, it will be by building the Afghan state, not by keeping it weak.' "

Taliban Assassins Fail: So What?

'Well-Duh' obvious points:
  • Afghanistan isn't the safest place to live
  • Hamid Karzai's dream of Afghanistan as a regional trade center will have to wait until Afghanistan can have a victory celebration without incoming fire
  • The Taliban isn't nice
Another point that's discussed often is that the Afghan central government has at best an iffy hold on its eastern territory. Too true: people living there seem to prefer the good old days, before nation-states interfered with local warlords. At least, the warlords feel that way.

Generally, I agree with Hamid Karzai's assertion that the "inherent character" of each country should be taken into consideration. I do not believe that there is one "correct" form of government. The constitutional monarchy of Jordan, for example, seems to be working fairly well. It's not perfect, of course, and it helps that King Abdallah II1 has a great deal on the ball.

However, in the case of Afghanistan, I think that "I Did It My Way" isn't working. Eastern Afghanistan still seems to be a refuge for those who prefer the late Iron Age.

One very important effect of yesterday's assassination attempt is to make it seem as if the Taliban is still strong in Afghanistan. I don't know that this is the case. It's true that the Taliban is active, and it's possible that, as Mr. Karzai complained, that Taliban and Al Qaeda strongholds in Pakistan are part of the problem.

The ability to talk six people into shooting up an open-air celebration, however, does not strike me as a demonstration of great power and wide support. I'm inclined to think that the Taliban continues to be a problem for Afghanistan not so much because the Taliban is great, but because Mr. Karzai is not willing - or, perhaps, able - to accept outside help, and impose peace on the Taliban.

Previous posts about Afghanistan and Mr. Karzai:
1His Majesty King Abdallah II is intelligent, articulate, and gives every indication of having a firm grasp of what's real and what isn't. His policies and decisions benefit Jordan more than they do America: which is as it should be. But, I think that, in the long run, America benefits when other countries follow the principles of enlightened self-interest.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.