Ismail Khan Survives Taliban attack; Withdraws from Cabinet; US Military’s fate in Afghanistan will be Worse than than of the Soviets

On Sunday morning, a Taliban suicide bombing attack struck at the entourage of Ismail Khan, the Afghan Minister of Energy and Water, in Herat, according to the Afghan Voice Agency writing in Persian. Ismail Khan is from the western, Dari Persian-speaking city of Herat, and was its governor before being inducted into the central government’s cabinet. The attack killed five persons and wounded 17, and left Ismail Khan unhurt but angry.

Ismail Khan had come to Herat a week ago with government permission, for the Eid al-Fitra or Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. He spent the last week meeting with people and is said to have heard from them increasing urgency about the deterioration of security in Herat.

The old-time warlord announced that he would no longer be attending cabinet meetings, in protest against the deteriorating security situation. Ismail Khan had reestablished himself in Herat in late 2001 as part of the Northern Alliance overthrow of the Taliban, and thereafter ruled it with an iron fist. He came into increasing conflict with local tribal leaders, and for the sake of social peace, President Hamid Karzai brought him to the capital as a cabinet minister. He must be furious that he no can no longer as much as visit his old province without nearly being killed by Taliban, a sign of bad security indeed, since there are few Pashtuns and fewer Taliban in Herat.

Ismail Khan said that he refuses to sit in cabinet meeings until the security situation is improved.

He is also quoted by AVA as saying that “The fate of the Americans in Afghanistan will be worse than that of the Russians.”

That observation struck me as ominous. Members of the Karzai cabinet are hiving off and betting against the US military’s ability to to keep peace in the country.

Meanwhile, presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah pledged to continue the charge against Karzai for voter fraud.

The enmity between Abdullah and Karzai stands in the way of the favored US means of dealing with the problem. The US wants a national unity government. Both Karzai and Ismail are refusing this way of proceeding (Abdullah fears no post given him in a Karzai government will have meaningful power attached to it).

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7 Responses

  1. Herat is in western Afghanistan.

    US Military's fate in Singapore will be Worse than than of the Soviets

    Don't you mean…

    British military's fate in Singapore will be no Worse than that of the US in Afghanistan?

  2. link to

    September 28, 2009

    When the Occupiers Are Seen As Natives

    I saw an interview with Gen. McChrystal on CBS the other day. It was quite astonishing: I mean, it was a PR gig for the man and for the mission. He said about what he was doing in Afghanistan: "If they view us as occupiers, we can't win." What will they view you as? What do you aspire that they will view you? That if you wave to the natives and smile at them (even if you decrease the bombs over their heads) they will then accept you as part of the Afghan population? When I hear American commanders in Iraq or Afghanistan (or their leaders in Washington, DC whether in the Obama or Bush administrations), you really think that those people have never ever read about previous colonial administration. Because they don't seem to notice that they sound exactly like previous colonial conquerors.

    — As'ad AbuKhalil

  3. "Abdullah fears no post given to him in a Karzai govt. would have any meaningful power …"

    This does sound like a perfectly rational comment on Abdullah's part, to my ears. Can anyone actually try to make a case that he would be given meaningful power in a "national unity" govt. supported by American power?

    And didn't we use to call these sorts of things "puppet governments," isn't that a term that deserves resurrection?

  4. How do we know it was the Taliban who tried to blow up Ismail Khan? As you say, there are few Pashtuns and fewer Taliban in Herat – but lots of other people there that might want to blow him up.

    What seems to me pertinent is that my question seems to have occurred to the old man, who is a pretty smart guy and expressed no irritation with the Taliban who supposedly tried to kill him in his own town.

  5. When was the last war American won?
    Learn from the past. Learn from history. Failure is cumulative.

  6. It would be helpful to produce a map of Afghanistan showing who has control in the various regions between the warlords, taliban, Karzai, NATO, etc. and overlaid with a topographical map. It's also instructive to see the rhetoric employed by the USA regarding the stolen election in Afghanistan versus Iran's.

  7. Scott Stantis, editorial cartoonist : “We need more troops in Afghanistan, or our Mission will fail. What is The Mission, General? The Mission… is to get more troops.” It is startling to realize that without the unnecessary occupations of IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN, the U.S. Military would have very little to do. (The military-industrial complex would then probably tell us that The Mission is to rebuild the military-industrial complex capacity that was = is now being destroyed by the previous Mission, etc.) To vested interests the spectre of "non-occupation" = dis-investment is a greater existential threat to the U.S. military than either the infinite loop absurdity of COIN = fighting a self-referential "enemy" force of occupation resistance fighters — or the no Old Glory military insult of fighting not other soldiers but "illegal combatants" = criminals with your finest assault troops. The absurdity -or- indignity of both the "counter insurgency" -or- "counter terrorism" Missions ~ this being the rhetorical FRAME box that we are not supposed to think out of ~ becomes hilarious when you realize that our political leaders are telling us (with a straight face: "when they stand up, we'll stand down") that The Mission is to train the people whose countries we are occupying to act like US = Build up your own huge, treasure-draining 'military-industrial complex' and then use it to "occupy yourselves" …and by so doing rescue US, thus from our own logical fallacy being this "The Mission is to sustain The Mission" perpetually un-productive military occupation meaninglessness.

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