How Are Things Going In Afghanistan?

You’ll be sorry you asked.

U.S. commander in Afghanistan survives deadly attack at governor’s compound that kills top Afghan police general
By Pamela Constable and Sayed Salahuddin, Washington Post
October 18, 2018

A gunman wearing an Afghan army uniform opened fire Thursday on participants in a meeting with the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, killing three top southern provincial officials and wounding at least three Americans. But Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the target of the attack claimed by the Taliban, escaped unharmed.

Among those killed in the attack inside the governor’s compound in southern Kandahar province was the region’s top police general, Abdul Raziq, who was seen as the most powerful man in southern Afghanistan.

U.S. military officials confirmed that a U.S. soldier, a contractor and another civilian were wounded in the attack, which occurred shortly after a high-level meeting attended by Miller.

In a news conference later Wednesday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani confirmed that Abdul Raziq and the Kandahar provincial intelligence chief “were martyred” in the attack. He said he has sent security authorities from Kabul to assess the situation.

The attacker opened fire as the officials were in the governor’s compound following a security meeting about crucial parliamentary elections on Saturday, officials said.

The lone attacker was killed after fatally shooting Abdul Raziq and wounding several of his bodyguards, Afghan and U.S. security officials said. He was reported to be a member of the provincial governor’s security team.

A slight and youthful-looking man, Abdul Raziq earned a reputation for brutality and corruption in the border police beginning a decade ago. But in recent years, as a top police official and ruthless anti-insurgent fighter, he was widely praised for bringing Kandahar and the surrounding region under government control. His forces received Western training and funds, and U.S. military officials often consulted him.

Last year, a United Nations report said the worst torture in Afghanistan took place in police jails in Kandahar, and the U.N Committee Against Torture called for the investigation and prosecution of Abdul Raziq. A decade earlier, a 2006 U.S. State Department study found that he had been removed from his post with the border police for arresting and tormenting a group of men from a rival clan. In 2011, the Atlantic magazine quoted two men who described being tortured with electric shocks in a prison operated by Abdul Raziq, who by then had been promoted to a senior police post. He categorically denied any wrongdoing.

Miller, 57, took over last month as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, replacing Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr. A veteran of some of the U.S. military’s most secretive combat units, he formerly served as commander of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command and participated in numerous combat operations, including in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.

The brazen attack followed a spate of insurgent and political violence during the run-up to parliamentary elections scheduled for Saturday. The Taliban has threatened to “severely disrupt” the elections and warned Afghans against participating in what the radical Islamist group regards as a pretext for perpetuating U.S. intervention in the country.

The Taliban warned students and teachers in particular to stay away from voting places, many of which are located in schools. But the group said it would seek to avoid harm to civilians.

The attack in Kandahar narrowly targeted senior U.S. and Afghan security officials, as well as the provincial governor and intelligence chief. The lone attacker reportedly opened fire at close range as those officials were finishing a meeting in the government compound.

But the lethal shooting seemed likely to have a chilling effect on voter participation Saturday, especially in the south, where several candidates have been assassinated.

On Wednesday, a prominent candidate, former army general Abdul Jabar Qahraman, was killed in neighboring Helmand province by a hidden bomb that exploded while he was holding a meeting at his campaign headquarters in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah. Qahraman, an ardent opponent of the Taliban, was the 10th candidate killed during the campaign in the past two months.

In a suicide attack later Wednesday near the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan, a bomber killed two Afghan civilians and wounded at least five Czech soldiers belonging to the U.S.-led NATO coalition in the country, officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing near Bagram air base about 30 miles north of the capital, Kabul.

Top Afghan Leaders Killed in Attack That Misses U.S. Commander
By Taimoor Shah and Mujib Mashal, The New York Times
Oct. 18, 2018

One of the most devastating Taliban assassination strikes of the long Afghan war killed top leaders of Kandahar Province on Thursday, in an attack that missed the top American commander in the country, Gen. Austin S. Miller, just two days before national elections that had already been undermined by violence.

Inside the provincial governor’s compound in Kandahar City, at least one attacker fatally shot the region’s powerful police chief, Gen. Abdul Raziq and the provincial intelligence chief. The gunfire wounded the provincial governor, another police commander and three Americans, Afghan officials said.

General Raziq, who had survived dozens of attempts on his life, was widely considered to be an indispensable security chief with influence across critical areas of southern Afghanistan, in the Taliban heartland. He was valued by American commanders as a fierce ally against the insurgents, but human rights advocates criticized him for brutal tactics that at times swept up innocent civilians as well as militants.

“At 3:30 p.m., after a meeting about the security of elections, when the high-ranking participants were heading to helicopters, an enemy infiltrator opened fire on them,” the deputy minister of interior, Gen. Akhtar Mohammad Ibrahimi, said at a news conference. “The police chief, General Raziq, and the provincial intelligence chief, General Abdul Momin, were killed.”

In a statement, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had specifically been aimed at General Raziq and General Miller. The American military released a statement confirming that General Miller, who was in the compound at the time of the attack, was not hurt, but that three Americans had been wounded.

Coming ahead of nationwide parliamentary elections on Saturday, the loss of the Kandahar leadership casts a further shadow on a political season already marred by bloodshed. One-third of polling stations will not open because of security, and at least 10 candidates and dozens of their supporters have been killed. The Taliban have threatened to attack polling places.

Another major attack last year inside the Kandahar governor’s office took a heavy toll on officials, killing a deputy governor, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, and members of Parliament. The governor at the time survived with burns and wounds. General Raziq had just stepped out of the room.

I’ll repeat myself. The U.S. military prescence in the Middle East is counter-productive and ineffectual, merely exposing our weakness. Did you know that recently the U.S.S. Essex steamed into the Persian Gulf without any operational Fighters at all? This is because the F-35 boondoggle once again was/is grounded because of software glitches and catastrophic safety failures. Yes, all of them.

Things will be bad if we leave but things are already bad and show no signs of getting better. U.S. Out. Now. Completely.