Tuesday, November 13, 2007

El Pais (Madrid): Afganistán, ¿hacia el abismo?

My commentary on last week's suicide bombing in Baghlan, north Afghanistan, appeared in El Pais today. Opening in English:
The November 6 terrorist bombing in Afghanistan’s northern province of Baghlan, which killed over 70 people, including 59 school children, symbolizes where the country is today: the real progress the country has made in the past few years is under serious threat from deteriorating security.
I hope the English version will appear soon.

Sources in the Afghan security services tell me that they have collected evidence showing that this was a suicide bombing, most likely traceable back to the training camps identified in a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

The bombing killed Sayed Mustafa Kazemi (on right in photo with U.S. ambassador Robert Finn), spokesman of the opposition National Front in the National Assembly, and one of the rising stars of Afghan politics. I met Kazemi at the UN-sponsored Bonn talks in 2001, where he was a member of the Northern Alliance delegation. He later became minister of commerce and was emerging as a young political leader who bridged gaps among ethnic groups and factions in the National Assembly. His death is a great loss, as is the killing of 59 schoolchildren and many others.

One more excerpt from the article:
A year ago, an Iranian official warned me that militants were coming from Iraq to Pakistan and Afghanistan to train Afghans and Pakistanis in these same tactics. He wanted to share information with the US government, but because of the growing conflict between Washington and Tehran, he could speak only to me, a private citizen. The purpose of such attacks, he said, would be to spark ethnic and sectarian conflict in Afghanistan.
In today's highly charged atmosphere, alas, it might work.

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