A suicide bomber targeted worshippers who had gathered at a mosque in north Afghanistan for prayers to mark Eid al-Adha, killing at least 41 people.
More than 50 people were wounded in the attack, which happened as people were leaving the Eid Gah mosque in Maymana, capital of Faryab province.
Senior provincial government and police officials attended the prayers, but appeared to escape serious injury.
The victims were mainly police officers and civilians.
I had some thoughts on this, and will later this week as to how a large part of the blame for this has to sit with ISAF. Which, I’m sure is going to endear me to some of you for differing reasons.
Why this matters: Whether this was retaliation for the killing of the Taliban shadow governor, or due to some other internal struggles, as suggested by some of the comments on my post, bottom line is this: it’s sad, it’s tragic, and it’s not going to stop.
But of course, the Taliban didn’t do it. They never do anything here. It’s those pesky ISI, or whatever.
The Taliban dismissed on Sunday a UN report that roadside bombs are causing most civilian casualties in Afghanistan as “Western propaganda.”
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed that the insurgents only use the weapons to target foreign troops and the Afghan security forces.
“By spreading such propaganda they are trying to prevent us from planting bombs which cause the deaths of invaders in our country,” he said in an emailed statement.
Yes, because as everyone knows, the Taliban do things based entirely on how ISAF responds to them in the press.
Why this matters: Whoever the IED target is, civilians are dying here because of them. Oh…and IEDs? ISAF’s fault again. Sorta. More on that later this week.
In a case of “be careful what you wish for,” a prosecutor in Herat is doing a bang up job of promoting the law. Unfortunately, she’s also putting a lot of women in jail for “adultery.”
Kudos to Jeremy Kelly of the Times for getting this one.
Last year she was hailed as one of the most influential people in the world – a defender of women’s rights as Afghanistan’s only female head prosecutor.
Ms Bashir has been lauded by both Michelle Obama and Hilary Clinton – and she was one of ten women to receive a ‘Women of Courage’ Award in Washington last year.
But Maria Bashir’s reputation is now in doubt after the Times revealed that Ms Bashir is also the most prolific prosecutor of women for Afghanistan’s so-called ‘moral’ crimes, such as adultery.
While Ms Bashir campaigns against abuse husbands, more than half of the 172 women jailed in Afghanistan for sex outside of marriage (known as ‘zina’) have come from her province.
Yes, this is from the Daily Mail site, but that’s a free summary of the Times story.
Why this matters: If ever there was a clear-cut case of the culture clash that exists between East and West, this would be it. I’m not defending or accusing her in any way, simply pointing out that someone who we view as a champion of womens’ rights also feels compelled to uphold laws that we might view as not being in the best interest of women. Is it legal? Sure. Is it moral? Dunno, and not going to try to pass judgment.
Interesting sidenote? She blames the Iranians.
When the Times contacted Ms Bashir, she said she was unaware that her prosecution rate was so much higer than other provinces, but blamed it on her province’s closeness to the border with Iran.
She said: ‘If it is higher it’s because we are bordered with Iran, which culturally influences Afghans.’
So this has happened:
No Afghan army battalion is capable of operating without U.S. advisers. Many policemen spend more time shaking down people for bribes than patrolling. Front-line units often do not receive the fuel, food and spare parts they need to function. Intelligence, aviation and medical services remain embryonic. And perhaps most alarming, an increasing number of Afghan soldiers and policemen are turning their weapons on their U.S. and NATO partners.
As a consequence, several U.S. officers and civilian specialists who have worked with those forces have started to question the wisdom of the 352,000 goal. To them, the obsession with size has been at the root of much that has gone wrong with the Afghan security services.
“We’ve built a force that’s simply too big,” said Roger Carstens, a former Special Forces lieutenant colonel who spent two years as a senior counterinsurgency adviser at the NATO headquarters in Kabul. “When you try to generate that many people that fast, you create leaders without the requisite leadership, maturity or acumen to get the job done. You can’t meaningfully vet anyone. You can’t ensure morale and discipline.”
Why this matters: ISAF and the DoD consistently push that 352,000 number and how close the Afghan forces are to that goal. Unfortunately, in the mad dash to achieve quantity over quality, what has been sacrificed is the ability of that force to sustain itself. I’ve had some thoughts on how the DoD measures both ANA progress and how ANP training numbers are calculated.
Some things do predate the Taliban and the civil war. A really interesting piece from Kevin Sieff. It’s a long excerpt, but worth the read.
No one here knows the man whose left leg is shackled to the wall of cell No. 5. Last week, he finished tearing his mattress to shreds and then moved onto his clothes, ripping his shirt and pants off before falling asleep naked.
“He’s insane,” say the villagers who have come to gawk at him. “He doesn’t know whether he’s in this world or another.”
“He’s getting better!” said Mia Shafiq, the man responsible for his recovery and the one who shackled him to the wall of a shrine in this eastern Afghan city.
The man’s brothers drove him here from southern Kandahar province two weeks ago, drawn by the same belief that has attracted families from across Afghanistan for more than two centuries. Legend has it that those with mental disorders will be healed after spending 40 days in one of the shrine’s 16 tiny concrete cells. They live on a subsistence diet of bread, water and black pepper near the grave of a famous pir, or spiritual leader, named Mia Ali Sahib.
Every year, hundreds of Afghans bring mentally ill relatives here rather than to hospitals, rejecting a clinical approach to what many here see as a spiritual deficiency. The treatment meted out at the shrine and a handful of others like it nationwide might be archaic, but the symptoms are often a response to 21st-century warfare: 11 years of nighttime raids, assassinations and suicide bombings.
For over a decade, Western donors have helped train Afghan psychiatrists, who diagnose many of their patients as having an ailment with a distinctly modern acronym: PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Mental health departments in Afghanistan are plastered with posters detailing the disorder’s symptoms. Pharmacies are stocked with antipsychotic drugs.
But many of those suffering from the disorder never see doctors or pharmacists. Instead, they are taken on the long, unmarked dirt road, through a village of mud huts, that leads to an L-shaped agglomeration of cells.
Why this matters: There are many Western observers that choose to accept the notion that everything wrong with Afghanistan is because of the Taliban. That before they arrived, Afghanistan as a whole was a wonderland of opportunity and enlightenment, and if we just get back those lost Taliban years, everything is going to be fine. There are issues and challenges in this country that predate so much of that, old beliefs and practices that the Taliban (or any of the insurgent groups) have learned to leverage for their benefit in recent years.
- Blogging Angry: The Faryab Mosque Bombing (findingmytribe.me)
- ISAF Condemns Faryab Mosque Bombing (defense.gov)
- Suicide bomber kills 37 at Afghan mosque during Eid – Reuters (reuters.com)