Afghanistan descends further into chaos as Islamists gain ground.
Front Page Magazine, by Ari Liebeman, August 26, 2016:
An attack on the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul on Wednesday has claimed the lives of at least 13. Another 36 were wounded in the carnage which began with a massive explosion at the entrance to the university. Gunmen then stormed the building and began shooting indiscriminately. Some students sustained fractured legs and other injuries when they jumped out of windows in a desperate bid to escape the terrorists. Fortunately, no Americans were killed.
Two terrorists were shot dead by U.S.-backed, Afghan security forces. A third terrorist was killed when he set off the bomb that signaled the start of the attack.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack though it is almost certainly the work of ISIS or the Taliban. Though the two groups despise each another and have on occasion clashed, they maintain a shared, visceral hatred of the West and routinely target foreigners and symbols of foreign presence.
The university made for a tempting target and has come under attack before. On August 7, just days after the Obama administration paid the Islamic Republic of Iran a $400 million ransom for the release of four American hostages, two university professors, one of whom was American (the other was an Australian national) werekidnapped by unknown assailants in military uniforms. It is not known whether the kidnappers were influenced by the ransom payment and the whereabouts of the abducted faculty members are unknown.
Afghanistan has a history of repelling foreign invaders but is essentially a failed state beset by a pandemic of violence and tribalism. It hosts a plethora of ethnic groups who share little in common except for Islam and distrust of foreigners.
In mid-July, twin suicide blasts in Kabul killed at least 80 people and injured 260. Those targeted were Afghan Hazaras, Persian-speaking people who are followers of the Shia brand of Islam; the rest of the nation practices Sunni Islam. ISIS claimed responsibility for the gruesome attack.
Afghanistan represents a foreign policy failure for Obama amid a string of foreign policy failures. After eight years, the U.S. has lost, rather than gained influence in that country. By conservative estimates, the Taliban fully or partially control at least 20 percent of the country. Some estimate that their area of control could be as high as 50 percent.
The U.S. currently maintains a military force of fewer than 10,000 in Afghanistan. Whatever influence the U.S. does have in Afghanistan is maintained by its armed presence. Should those forces be withdrawn, the Taliban, Iran and militias loyal to Pakistan would quickly move to fill the void left by the Americans. Afghanistan would then Balkanize and would likely revert to the state that existed before the U.S. intervention in 2001.
Moderates don’t do well in that part of the world as evidenced by the chaos currently reigning in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and to a lesser extent, Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria and Bahrain. Part of the blame rests with the very nature and belief systems of the people who reside there. They are hopelessly mired in a convoluted mix of medievalism, Islamic fundamentalism, conspiracy, tribalism, misogyny and xenophobia. But fault also lies with the Obama administration, which continuously dismissed emerging threats like ISIS, routinely chose to side with the bad guys, like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, engaged in policies of appeasement with Iran, failed to follow through with promised action when red lines were crossed in Syria and betrayed long-time, democratic allies like Israel.
Obama has continuously misjudged, mismanaged and mischaracterized threats against the United States and its allies. The chaos prevalent in Afghanistan and in the rest of the Muslim Mideast could have been militated had Obama pursued more responsible and robust policies that recognized allies as allies and enemies as enemies. Sadly, the opposite has occurred.