Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Afghanistan: U.S. Embassy Hit, No Agreement With Karzai And The Last Oz Troops Leave
An interesting Christmas in Afghanistan...
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul was fired on today just before dawn, with two rounds of what was referred to as 'indirect fire' hitting the compound. 'Indirect fire' usually means rocket attacks, RPG's or mortar rounds.
No Americans were reported as casualties, but the fact that our enemies were able to get close enough to target and fire heavy weapons at our heavily fortified embassy in what is supposedly a safe zone says quite a bit.
The Taliban claimed responsibility, but given the attacks on Americans by our supposed 'allies' among the Afghan forces, that's a pretty wide range.
Afghan police were targeted in two bombing incidents, one on a roadside restaurant in Puli Alam, the capital of Logar province some 35 odd miles east of Kabul that killed six and wounded 13 and a second attack in east Kabul that wounded three Afghan policemen.
As we retreat and draw down, they're getting a lot bolder. Winter used to be something of a lull for the most part in Afghanistan because of the weather and topography. Not anymore.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is still refusing to sign a security agreement with the U.S. that would leave some American troops in his country. He is still insisting on a ban of airstrikes,raid and the entry of U.S. forces into Afghan homes, is demanding the U.S. broker a peace with the Taliban and is still insisting that any new treaty should be signed by his successor after the next Afghan elections in the spring. Translation - Karzai, his brother and their families want to make sure they have a secure way out of the country before the Americans leave, and they won't sign on to anything until they get that guarantee.
Karzai reiterated this, interestingly enough, at a three day conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, with whom Karzai has signed a security agreement. Afghanistan does share a small border with India, and the Indians have a vested interest in making sure that their border is secure and that a potential flashpoint with either the Taliban or more likely Pakistan is checkmated.
And finally, today is the day the Diggers left.
The Australian forces represented the largest non-NATO contingent in AfPak, and as usual, they came in because they're one of the best allies we have and to them, that's what allies do. Every report I've heard of their performance in AfPak marks them, along with the Canadians, as some of the most useful and resourceful non-U.S. troops in the theater, miles ahead of most of the motley crew supplied by our European allies. They were always willing to mix it up with the jihadis, never shirked the hard jobs, and lost 40 of their mates in AfPak as their share of the sacrifice involved.
They left for Oz today from Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan province, Australia's main base in the country and I don't blame them one bit. With President Obama giving the Taliban a set in stone withdrawal date, the Australians realize that there's no reason to hang around. And PM Tony Abbot underlined that today:
"This war is ending, not with victory, not with defeat, but with hope that Afghanistan is a better place and Uruzgan in particular is a better place for our presence," Prime Minister Tony Abbott said. "I firmly believe that to be the case."
When one of your best allies takes a look at your strategy and at your commander-in-chief and realizes that there's no sense hanging around anymore, that says something.
Around 400 of the Australian military are committed to remain in Afghanistan through 2014 to train the Afghan military in Kabul and Kandahar. Whether that holds good if the U.S. completely bugs out as President Obama is threatening to do if no security arrangement gets signed by Karzai is doubtful.