Carnage In Kabul
The most brazen attack in the capital in years:
At least nine people were killed after Taliban insurgents attacked government buildings in Kabul on Wednesday, officials and witnesses said, in one of the most audacious attacks on the capital since 2001.
Taliban insurgents stormed the justice ministry in Kabul on Wednesday, killing two government employees, while two suicide bombers attacked another government building in north Kabul, police and witnesses said.
The incidents come at a time of worsening security in the country and a day before Richard Holbrooke, the new U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, was expected to visit Kabul.
A private television station quoted a Taliban spokesman as saying seven of its fighters were trying to attack the justice ministry and a prison department office building in revenge for the treatment of jailed insurgents.
I suppose the best thing you can say is that this could have been much worse, though other reports say as many as 19 are dead. As Spencer Ackerman says, this shows the reach of the Taliban, able to strike in the heart of the capital in a government building. I don't want to call it the Tet Offensive, but it does send a signal one day before US envoy Richard Holbrooke is scheduled to arrive.
Pakistan is recommending that Holbrooke talk to Taliban moderates, which everyone keeps saying exist, but I'm not seeing a lot of evidence of that. If there's a reconcilable element, they would obviously be targets, but you'd have to show me. Interestingly, Holbrooke also wants to involve Iran:
Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration's new point man on Afghanistan and Pakistan, is expected to engage Iran as part of a broad effort to stabilize Afghanistan and combat the country's growing drug trade, according to officials briefed on the special representative's plans.
Now that would be a grand bargain. And given the thawing of the chilly US-Iranian relations, it would be a good place to start. Whether Iran would want to get involved with their eastern neighbor, even though they were willing to do so in 2001, is also an open question.
So, you know, if we can make deals with the Taliban and Iran, Afghanistan is saved! Well, that sounds a bit tenuous.