Afghan Taliban claim attack on NATO convoy in Kabul

KABUL Sat Jan 4, 2014 2:01pm EST

1 of 2. An Afghan security personnel keeps watch near the site of an explosion in Kabul January 4, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Mohammad Ismail

Related Topics

KABUL (Reuters) - The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack on a military convoy belonging to the NATO-led ISAF security force in Kabul on Saturday, striking at the heart of the capital but without causing any casualties.

Security sources said the bomb had targeted a military convoy near Camp Eggers, an ISAF base in the diplomatic quarter of the capital close to both the German and Italian embassies.

Reuters reporters heard sirens and helicopters flying overhead, and a loudspeaker announcement ordered troops at the base to load their weapons and take up defensive positions.

The NATO-led force said only that there had been "an improvised explosive device detonation in the vicinity of Camp Eggers", but that no casualties had resulted.

The Taliban, who frequently exaggerate the scale of their attacks, claimed in an emailed statement to have inflicted losses.

In a separate incident on Saturday, however, one ISAF soldier was killed in the east of the country by a suicide attack. The force did not disclose the victim's nationality.

There was also another explosion in the capital on Saturday.

"There was a small mine ... placed by enemies of Afghanistan, but no casualties," a police spokesman said.

(Reporting by Jessica Donati and Mirwais Harooni; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
SKYDRIFTER wrote:
Afghans – including the Taliban – are “…. big on revenge.” The Taliban have a mandate to establish their fear-driven power to the
Afghan people; and all foreign powers who have refused, so far, to learn the obvious lessons of history.

Possibly, this event marks the beginning of the Taliban (and their sympathetic counterparts such as al Qaeda) predictable/assumed infliction of both the greatest harm, as the U.S. forces withdraw – and effecting the Taliban’s return to power.

The U.S. is desperate for an effective ‘rear guard,’ to protect the impending withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

Historically, the U.S. has managed to depart “rescue wars” with a truly “friendly” left-behind military guarding the withdrawing U.S. troops. This time, things could be radically different.

Unlike previous U.S. “withdrawal” scenarios, and given the magnitude of country-wide corruption under Karzai, the Taliban may be able to successfully preclude any kind of “covering” force, as the U.S. loads up equipment & troops for withdrawal.

Since the Korean War, the U.S. is globally famous for abandoning those who once served the U.S. military/political “adventures.” The Afghans previously suffered that fate, after the Russians were driven out of Afghanistan – being ultimately left with the U.S. created monster, the “Taliban.”

The greatest U.S. risk is that the Taliban will convince the “new” Afghan Army population that their only (post-abandonment) survival strategy – and that of their families – is to turn on American forces/associates.

Should that happen – or the Afghan soldiers simply ‘assume’ that as being the truth – then there is going to be one hell of a mess. It would only take a handful of serious ‘turncoat’ incidents, until the U.S. commanders would have to treat the new Afghan Army as a serious threat. Militarily and politically, such a scenario would obviously be a major nightmare – added to any independent Taliban operations.

In the periphery, much of Afghanistan is controlled by truly fearsome tribal militias. Generally, these forces are given to focusing upon their claimed turf and longevity; as opposed to getting involved with “national politics.” At a minimum, these forces are unlikely to actively support the U.S. against the Taliban. Conversely, the tribal militias might cut some sort of deal with the Taliban; given that the Taliban is highly likely to become the long-term “national” governing force. If so, the U.S. forces won’t be able to rely upon the tribal chiefs to guard the supply/withdrawal land routes.

In any case, with Afghanistan being land-locked, the Taliban could easily block any desired land routes, leaving the U.S. looking to the sky as the only way in or out out of Afghanistan. If the Taliban manages to block/damage the needed runways; there is going to be a far worse mess. Comparably, if the Taliban secures enough weaponry to routinely shoot down inbound/outbound aircraft at low altitude, the scenario would be that much worse.

Currently, Karzai is resisting the U.S. pressure to leave a contingent of U.S. troops in Afghanistan – who could act as a “rear guard” to facilitate the withdrawal operations. Thus, Karzai is currently in a position to secure a major bribe from the U.S. Logically, he should be thinking in terms of retiring in Europe; with a huge bank account – insulated from “sanctions.” Such could be the price for the U.S. forces to be able to get out of Afghanistan without major losses.

BUT, currently, that “deal” is still in the air.

Karzai is about to leave office. Whatever he leaves behind will dictate the critical U.S. withdrawal scenario. While the Afghan Parliament is currently on the side of the U.S., Afghanistan has no cash reserves to operate with. If the trillions which the U.S. has spent on eradicating the Taliban haven’t done the job; a ‘broke’ Afghan Parliament will be instantly helpless – including during the remaining time required to accommodate the U.S. troop withdrawal.

In the background, also, the Taliban has a dangerous amount of leverage over the Pakistani government. Accordingly, Pakistan is forced to think in terms of the most probable “Afghan” reality, after the U.S. is “out” of Afghanistan – and how to accommodate Pakistan’s security, relative to the Taliban forces inside Pakistan in the interim. The key threat to the U.S. in that scenario is the Taliban’s ability to also attack U.S./Afghan supply convoys on Pakistani soil – and, obviously, any “withdrawal” convoys.

Barring any effective rear guard, it could come down to the U.S. essentially paying the Taliban to allow the U.S. forces to leave. In concert, the Taliban might require the ‘price’ of equipment & arms left behind; and, possibly a huge chunk of cash.

All of the U.S. post 9/11 military adventures reinforce what should be a commanding “historic lesson” about military and/or civil war:

“Any military and government can be destroyed by political or violent force. However, if the will and/or hope of the country’s populace is not won – or successfully and permanently changed – there will be no meaningful victory; as opposed to creating a powerful and unpredictable resolve for both civil resistance and revenge.”

Comparing just the German history of W.W. I and W.W. II clearly demonstrates this “lesson.” The Treaty of Versailles left the German populace in resentment and chaos – until Hitler came on the scene to seize control of the German “will;” and very nearly won. In sequence, the outcome of W.W. II was dictated by the destruction and permanently changed will of the German populace; as was the case with Japan.

In contrast, the Viet Nam War was a highly predictable loss, leaving one of John Kennedy’s last acts in the form of his directive to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from South Viet Nam; with the consequent and obvious history.

While it can be said that Viet Nam, and subsequent American “wars,” were/are dictated by “American corporate greed,” as opposed to the intent of achieving a lasting international political change; the fundamental “lesson of war” remains unchanged – even if it is both little known, appreciated and/or “popular.” Until at least the American public learns and/or embraces that lesson –or something highly comparable – then similar “wars” are inevitable.

Accordingly, the quite reasonably predictable military outcomes in both Iraq and Afghanistan should at least leave the American Public, in particular, craving an understanding as to what went wrong. Unfortunately, it will be such as the Taliban and al Qaeda (both being products of past U.S. military adventures – however secret) who will facilitate not just the “fundamental” lesson(s) of war; but also illustrate the consequences of the associated failures.

Media-delivered propaganda aside, the current global “security” concern is far more about “revenge;” than “terrorism.” In terms of time and magnitude, “terrorism” is short-lived; “revenge” can span centuries.

Yes, Americans are “tired” of war. But will the American public be so responsible as to think through their “fatigue,” asking the painful questions; so as to play a powerful role in preventing “… more of the same?”

Again, what does this attack on the NATO convoy represent – an arbitrary event; or the turning point for the Taliban & associates? The “withdrawal” clock is ticking; as is the 2014 election clock.

Jan 04, 2014 6:50pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.