Kabul’s American University ‘represents everything terrorists hate’

An Afghan policeman stands guard after an attack at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, Afghanistan August 25, 2016. © Mohammad Ismail
Because the American University of Afghanistan teaches women, offers secular subjects and leads youngsters away from strict Koranic education, this drives many Islamists crazy and led them to attack it, says former US diplomat John Graham.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack that killed at least 12 people and wounded dozens of others.

John Graham is a former diplomat at the US embassy in Libya suggests it was most likely the Taliban that instigated the attack.

The American University of Afghanistan “teaches women and it also teaches a heavy dose of secular subjects,” and for many Taliban commanders who attended madrasas “that is reason enough for an attack,” he told RT.

“It represents almost everything about America they hate,” Graham added. “The very name, The American University in Afghanistan and the fact it teaches women and it teaches secular subjects; it leads young Afghan students away from strict Koranic education - this drives a lot of Islamic fundamentalists crazy, don’t you think?”

The Western intervention in Afghanistan now goes back decades and one would assume the West brought democracy, freedom, education to the country and that the Afghans should not be resentful about that.

“The Afghans have been fighting the British successfully; if I may say so, they fought the Russians successfully; and they have been doing a pretty damn good job of combating the US and NATO troops.These are very independent-minded people; they have their own culture, their own politics, and they really don’t want anybody else messing around,” Graham explained.

In his opinion, it’s unlikely the security situation in Afghanistan will improve in the short-term.

“The best that can possibly happen is that there will be a kind of a standoff between perhaps a somewhat more competent Afghani army force that can hold off the Taliban, and so that some genuine talks - like those began in Qatar - can succeed,” he told RT. “Afghanistan is basically run by warlords. I was there a number of times as a Foreign Service officer, and these religious warlords is extremely important political force.”

Graham says he is not optimistic even if the best-case scenario develops.

If “the US and NATO troops withdraw, the Taliban reaches a standstill; there is a negotiation; the composite government of some kind – well, we’ve tried that before, and warlordism has always broken it down,” he said. “I don’t think anyone can be optimistic that even if there is a military stalemate that the political solution will last for very long,” he concluded.

Is the Taliban coming into the city?

Jack Rice, former CIA Officer and international lawyer suggests the American University was attacked because it represents a “perfect combination” of being a “soft target” and an ability to grab headlines - “which is critically important” for terrorist groups.

The most likely suspect is the Taliban - or groups affiliated with it – which seems to be appropriating Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) tactics of courting as much media attention as possible whatever the means.

“[Islamic State] is motivating other organizations who may not have been as public in the past to come up and do more,” Rice told RT, noting that Taliban typically “would just fight”.

“The instability in Afghanistan is continuing, you’re seeing the success of the Taliban across the country as they are working their way closer and closer to Kabul. The question is – is this the Taliban coming into city and actually starting to try to take the control in that sense?” said Jack Rice, former CIA Officer and international lawyer.

The Afghan national government is “really struggling” to try to maintain territory and convince various tribes to stay alongside the government, he said. But part of the problem is that the government is mired in corruption, Rice added.

West’s failure to help Afghan people is behind revival of violence

Catherine Shakdam, director of programs, Shafaqna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies, attributed the “revival of violence and terrorism” in the country to the inability of the Western world to provide much-needed assistance to Afghanistan contrary to what they claim.

“Western powers have utterly failed to properly and adequately helping the Afghan people. And I’m not talking about just training and weaponry,” Shakdam told RT.

It’s not only political instability or insecurity that has to do with social upheaval - poverty is also a “driving factor” in the spread of terrorism in Afghanistan as well as in the world in general. And the Western powers have failed to address this issue, Shakdam says.

“We failed to help the Afghan people in the manner they actually asked to be helped,” she said.

“All the Americans care about in Afghanistan has to do with war capitalism…It doesn’t have anything to do with helping the people on the ground, none whatsoever.”

Instead of boosting infrastructure and development, the Afghan government seeks approval “in Washington, in London or in Paris” while ignoring the plight of its own people.

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