The Taliban hanged Najibullah, the last Soviet-backed Afghan president, in the streets of Kabul in 1996
This from my op ed in The National earlier this week:
Back in April, Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, dodged a bullet. A fusillade of them, actually, plus a few rocket-propelled grenades, when a ceremony he was addressing came under Taliban attack in the heart of Kabul. Nato spin-doctors immediately dismissed the incident as a case of the Taliban getting lucky. Such increased reliance on terror attacks, they insisted, were signs that the Taliban had grown desperate, having been forced onto the back foot by effective Western counterinsurgency.
Similar sentiments were expressed last week – a week in which Britain’s casualty toll for its Afghan mission passed 100 – after Taliban fighters attacked Kandahar prison and freed 400 of their comrades, and began to take control of a string of villages around the southern city that had once been their spiritual capital.
No amount of wishful thinking can hide the reality, however, that six and a half years after the US-led military intervention that scattered the Taliban, the presence of some 50,000 Nato troops has not prevented the movement from regrouping and mounting a resurgence that has sabotaged plans to rebuild the country on Western-friendly terms.
There may have been a symbolic irony in the April assassination attempt on Karzai: it occurred during a speech to celebrate the 16th anniversary of the fall of Najibullah, the leader of the last Soviet client regime in Kabul, who was butchered when the Taliban arrived. Because Karzai’s situation is not unlike that Najibullah’s…