The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

New fears of chaos in Afghanistan

Hopefully the situation isn't as bad as this story from Kabul suggests. Unfortunately, it sounds all too familiar-- too few troops, a lack of infrastructure years after the invasion, a growing resistance causing more violence, an ineffectual government, and increased hatred for American 'occupiers.'

The riots went on for more than seven hours. Armed gangs of looters destroyed humanitarian compounds and laid siege to the Interior Ministry itself. The much-touted Afghan security forces were ineffectual, and the 9,000 NATO peacekeeping troops in Kabul never left their compounds. Scores of people were killed. The official total is 17 dead but literally no one believes that. Eyewitnesses said there were more than 10 killed in front of one mobile phone company compound, whose security detail of former British Special Forces men refused to abandon their building and opened fire, eventually winning a four-hour gun battle against the looters. Informed Afghan security sources put the total dead at close to 100 people.

It was the worst single day of violence in Kabul since the fall of the Taliban regime over four years ago, and it revealed how fragile the tolerance for the American, NATO and international community presence in Afghanistan actually is for the people of this impoverished, violence-plagued and deeply divided country.

Violence in Afghanistan has recently spiked, mainly in the south, as the remnants of the Taliban have been increasingly successful in their insurgency. In the past three weeks, the country has seen some of the worst fighting since the fall of the Taliban. Since May, more than 500 people have been killed, many of them suspected insurgents. U.S. Ambassador Ronald Neumann blamed much of the violence on drug mafias fighting the Kabul government's U.S.-backed opium eradication campaign. The situation has grown so grave that Karzai has taken the risky step of using tribesmen in the south to fight the Taliban.