Armed with a car bomb, grenades, and automatic weapons, militants killed at least 13 people during a 10-hour siege on the American University of Afghanistan, police said on Thursday. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. It was the second time this month that the university had been targeted. Back on August 7, two teachers, both foreign nationals, were abducted at gunpoint from a road near the university. Islamist militant groups, primarily a local offshoot of Islamic State and the Afghan Taliban, have been responsible for a string of recent attacks aimed at creating chaos in Afghanistan and toppling the US-backed government in Kabul.
Terror in Kabul
Although no one has claimed responsibility for this attack, there are worrying signs that it could be the result of the current insurgency in Afghanistan. Attempts by Western governments to defeat the Afghan Taliban have not amounted to much. Recent reports indicate that some 100 American troops have been sent to Afghanistan’s Helmand province, where the Taliban have made some serious advances. “Around 80 percent of the province is under the control of the insurgents,” the head of Helman’s provincial council, Kareem Atal said.
“There are a number of districts that the government claims are under their control, but the government is only present in the district administrative center and all around are under the control of the insurgents.” The attack on the university is a reminder that even as the Taliban stretch Afghan forces throughout the country, complex urban attacks remain critical to their insurgency, according to a report in the New York Times. “The urban attacks bring the insurgents what even major battlefield gains in remote areas of the country cannot: headlines and a disruption of daily life that increases pressure on the government,” it said.
Fourteen years after the US invasion, Afghanistan continues to stand on one knee. The US-backed regime propped up in Kabul has been unable to establish its authority with the Taliban gaining ground. When the Taliban was toppled, the invading US-led forces sought to rebuild a nation torn by the war. Similar to the situation in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, pre-2001 Afghanistan had seen a Taliban regime that exerted total control over warring tribal factions. After the invasion, neither were the institutions required to rebuild the country established nor did the US-propped Kabul regime exerted the sort of control.
Distracted by the Iraq invasion, the US-led forces quite clearly neglected Afghanistan and by 2006, the Taliban had made their way back as a formidable force. The Afghan army and police today, despite extensive logistical and military support from Western powers, are not up to the task of defending the nation’s security. As a result, the US has sought Pakistan’s help to initiate a dialogue process between the Afghan Taliban and Kabul. The Afghan Taliban operates out of Pakistan, under the patronage of the Pakistan Army. It would be fair to suggest that the script has gone terribly wrong for both Kabul and the US.