Kabul Shambles Makes Sorry Spectacle for US, NATO

Some serious stock-taking in the Afghan capital and US-led NATO command has followed the Taliban’s success in breaking up the Afghan army parade in Kabul Sunday, April 27. Scheduled for the 16th anniversary of the Soviet Army’s defeat and expulsion from Afghanistan, it was staged to showcase the progress made by Hamid Karzai’s regime and its US-led NATO allies in the war against the country’s ousted Taliban rulers and their al Qaeda partners. Afghanistan’s government, tribal and military elite were seated on the platform together with Western dignitaries.
Karzai reviewed the smartly-turned out troops from a mobile armored turret.
As a 21-gun salute boomed with the last strains of the Afghan anthem, half a dozen Taliban fighters opened up with anti-tank RPGs, mortars, heavy machine guns and Kalashnikov rifles. The dignitaries were hustled to safety, each by his personal bodyguards.
The episode had four outstanding features:
1. The bodyguards moved so swiftly to whisk their charges off the platform, that officers leading the marching soldiers found themselves saluting rows of empty chairs abandoned by the president, the ambassadors and Afghan and Western commanders.
This spectacle recalled the eerie scene immediately after Egyptian Jhad Islami assassins murdered Egyptian president Anwar Sadat as he took a military parade in Cairo on Oct 6, 1981. This Egyptian terrorist group, lead by Ayman al-Zawihiri, later joined forces with Osama bin Laden to form the present-day al Qaeda.
2. Within seconds, the proudly marching troops, trained to fight Taliban and al Qaeda, had scattered, although later a lame official attempt was made to describe a counter-attack on the terrorists.
3. Not a single military or political figure stayed on the platform to take command of the chaos, curb the stampede and organize an effective counter-attack to let the parade go on.
4. The headlong flight stood out in particular in contrast to the Afghan tribal chiefs who stood their ground on the platform. It was they who suffered one of the only two casualties, together with an Afghan national lawmaker. Another 12 people were injured. The low casualty rate indicates that the Taliban attack was limited and could have been checked by the large military presence if only one of the high-ranking commanders had had the presence of mind to hold the line.
President Karzai later went on air on national TV to repair the bad impression left by his dash to safety. But Kabul’s four million inhabitants and the rest of the country did not miss the glaring security hole through which Taliban had entered an area which should have been sterile.
Another inescapable conclusion drawn by debkafile‘s military sources is that the Taliban attack must have had confederates among the Afghan military and security organizers of the parade.
Otherwise, they could not have positioned themselves in a building 500 yards from the platform, having left their arms and ammunition therefore beforehand, or accessed the rings of roadblocks and tight security put in place two weeks before the event.
Second, the Taliban gunmen were sitting pretty in that building, without fear of discovery, although it should have been cleared before the parade of the usual local addicts and fringe characters which normally tenanted it.
Third, someone gave the assailants a timetable of the scheduled events which enabled them to synchronize their attack with the booming gun salute.
This feature is familiar from the jihadists’ 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat. His murderers leapt out from the lines of marching soldiers and began shooting at the moment air force jets were making low passes over the stadium.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Font Resize
Contrast