In 11 years of warfare, Kabul has never seen a Taliban offensive such as this. Government buildings, foreign embassies, NATO offices and bases have been continuously attacked for two days by coordinated rocket and gun attacks around the country. Deeming the violence as a “spring offensive”, it is disheartening to see that 11 years of war and devastation has not had the result as some may have hoped and also raises questions to who the real enemy is and whether the “enemy” can be pinpointed to being one group or individual. It also raises the question as to how many different perspectives there are to the Afghanistan war saga and its history. Lastly, it puts into question whether or not the NATO transfer of power by 2014 will be as effective as previously hoped.
When it comes to attacks within Afghanistan, usually the Taliban are blamed. When it comes to cross border attacks, it usually is blamed on Al-Qaeda, the Haqqani network and sometimes the Pakistani Taliban. Are all these groups different or synonymous or overlapping, etc?
With the onset of increased violence in Kabul and other areas of Afghanistan, the blame game has started and rumor has it that the Haqqani network is behind the Kabul attack. Some say that the ISI is also involved, as they have ties to the Haqqani network. And some go even further to speculate, such as one Afghan minister, that an attack of this scale in Kabul can only be “sponsored violence” and that it can “only be supported by a professional intelligence agency”, therefore indicating a Pakistani twist to the tale. So Pakistan is an enemy of Afghanistan?
It is difficult to talk about Afghanistan without mentioning the histories and traditions of the inhabitants in the country, and the establishment of the 1893 Durand Line, the advent of colonialist rule, the threat of communism destroying Islam, and eventually the land in which Osama bin Laden would train his men to carry out terrorist missions around the world. It is even more difficult to attempt a “solution” to the Afghan “problem” when there are a multitude of problems with different culprits. Some see the occupation as a problem, some see President Hamid Karzai as the problem, some see the Taliban as a problem, some see Pakistani influence in Afghanistan as a problem, etc.
So who is the real enemy?
Coalition forces and NATO? Taliban? Al-Qaeda? Haqqani Network? President Karzai? Pakistan? According to US ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, coalition forces are leaving Afghanistan too soon, before Afghan forces have a hold on their country’s security.
So are the coalition and NATO forces the enemy in Afghanistan or the saviors? Many in South Asia would believe that they are the enemy. The foreign forces that came to Afghanistan to avenge the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 were and still are seen as occupying forces that are unwanted. While they may be after Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the people of Afghanistan have fallen victim to their 11 year war, and have had to deal with a failing infrastructure that could have seen improvement in the last decade had it not been for war. While the coalition forces and NATO have secured certain regions and have attempted to bring stability to the Afghan leadership and government institutions, they have also been involved in the death of many innocent Afghan and Pakistani people in both countries.
So could the Afghan enemy be the Taliban or Al-Qaeda? The Taliban is still a major threat to democracy and a secular way of life in Afghanistan to many Afghans and international critics, and so is Al-Qaeda. While the Taliban may want to regain control of Afghanistan and its government, Al-Qaeda seeks refuge in its remote and hazardous terrain. Their goals may be different to the Taliban’s, as they have a global agenda, but they may work hand in hand when it comes to defeating foreign forces on Afghan territory.
So what about the Haqqani network? Once a member of the Taliban government, Jalaluddin Haqqani was highly influential during the soviet invasion of Afghanistan and is thought to be the link to the ISI in Pakistan. The Haqqani network has been deemed the top most enemy network, and are known as a separate entity than the Taliban but have the same agenda. The Haqqani network seems to focus solely on South and Central Asian regions from Afghanistan to Chechnya, and seem to be a bigger and more effective threat than the Taliban?
Could President Karzai be an enemy of Afghanistan as he is deemed an American puppet and has been involved in controversial decisions while ruling over Afghanistan? Is the attack on Kabul foreshadowing what will happen under his rule when the coalition and NATO forces are gone? Or are the wrongdoers Pakistan’s ISI? Pakistan’s government? Or Pakistan’s Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban?
It is impossible to speculate with all the history and warfare the region has had to endure but one thing is for certain, what has happened in the last 11 years of the country has been devastating and to rebuild Afghanistan will be a task that needs to include what ordinary Afghan’s wants and needs are with the help of their friends, not people who want to exploit the nation or its resources.
For a more in-depth account of the current war in Afghanistan, you can read Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis’s account here http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/06/world/asia/army-colonel-challenges-pentagons-afghanistan-claims.html?pagewanted=all and http://www. guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/14/afghan-war-whisleblower-daniel-davis?INTCMP=SRCH