'Taliban attack shows vulnerability of security in Afghanistan'

An Afghan security guard stands at the site of a truck bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 1, 2016. © Mohammad Ismail
There is a security crisis in Afghanistan. The recent attack in Kabul aimed at foreigners shows it has deteriorated seriously this year, says Professor Sreeram Chaulia, from the Jindal School of International Affairs in Delhi.

A Taliban assault on the Northgate compound for foreigners in Kabul, Afghanistan left one policeman dead and four wounded on Monday.

This latest assault comes in spite of US efforts to engage the Taliban in peace talks. Around a fifth of Afghan territory is currently held by the Taliban.

Last week, 80 people were killed and 231 injured as ISIS suicide bombers detonated explosive vests in the middle of a demonstration in the Afghan capital.

READ MORE: Death toll in Kabul suicide attack climbs to over 80 killed, more than 230 injured

RT: The Taliban said the attack is aimed at Americans. What will this mean for the peace talks?

Sreeram Chaulia: The Americans, the Chinese and the Pakistanis have been trying to hold some kind of quadrilateral peace process with Taliban representatives over the last nearly couple of years. This has proved fruitless and is going nowhere. The Americans have also intensified aerial combat missions and support for the Afghan forces. President Obama agreed to increase the troop presence up to 2,000. All of this means the Taliban is sending a clear message. The Taliban has a legend of being a nationalistic jihadist force and they are saying “we will attack these invaders, or ‘infidels’” as they call the Western forces until they are driven out of the country. And their argument is that “we will not have these talks unless the foreigners are evicted.”

On the other hand the Afghan state needs the presence of the foreigners to be able to balance the rising threat of the Taliban.  

There is a crisis of security in Afghanistan. And this attack especially aimed at foreigners sends a message “we do not want you here, you are corrupting our values, you are supporting a puppet government and we have to push you back and only then there will be any reconciliation.” So, it is a bit of a contradiction: the Americans said they will oversee the reconciliation efforts, while the Taliban are saying “we want you out” and only then can there be reconciliation.

Commenting on the consequences of the Taliban attack for the American-led peace talks, former Pentagon official Michael Maloof told RT: “I think they’ll try to go on with the peace talks. But at the same time, this represents a far more serious problem and that is security inside the Afghan capital of Kabul. Not only was a hotel targeted but also a military facility which should have been very well guarded by [the Afghan] military. It almost sounds like that was an inside job given the ease at which they were able to get into not only the military facility which they are still engaged in, but also at the hotel where there also supposed to be security. So, this raises some very serious questions on internal security in the capital itself.

You’ve got to keep in mind that the Taliban doesn’t really have any incentive at this point to continue on with peace talks simply because they are able to penetrate, they have shown the vulnerability of security. An increasing number of Taliban commanders are now beginning to swear allegiance to ISIS in Afghanistan.”

READ MORE: 'Kabul blast – Taliban attempt to spark fear & confusion among security personnel'

RT: The Taliban earlier claimed to have killed dozens of people. But sources inside the compound now say there are no casualties among residents and staff. Is it surprising that these claims are so contradictory?

SC: It is a war, and there is a war of misinformation and we cannot be sure as to who is right. The Taliban always exaggerates their fighting and how many people they have killed in order to show that they are ahead of the state and [to show that they are attacking] and the state is on the defensive.  But nonetheless the fact is if you look at the overall security picture it has deteriorated so much, civilian casualties this year are enormous, so the Afghans are taking a lot of bodies and body bags back. It is unfortunately deteriorating the situation.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.