Kabul was the latest scene of mayhem on Tuesday night when eight insurgents — three suicide bombers and the rest armed gunmen — stormed the Intercontinental Hotel, laying siege to the premises and the guests inside. The brazen attack and its counter-operation by NATO forces lasted some five hours, leaving 19 people dead including the eight militants. The ordeal ended only when NATO helicopters fired rockets at the Taliban insurgents positioned on the roof of the hotel. This was a well-orchestrated attack and has, no doubt, placed the US drawdown plan in a whole new light.The Intercontinental Hotel has been largely abandoned by foreigners and important guests in favour of the better guarded Serena Hotel. That is why it is surprising that on the day this attack happened, a meeting of provincial governors was slated to take place in the hotel and another was to be conducted the next day (Wednesday) on the topic of the transition process. There is no doubt that the timing of the attack was related to this high level meeting that, surprisingly, was not held at the Serena. This extremely complex and defiant attack proves what keen analysts have been saying all along: we can talk about withdrawal of US troops but what are they actually leaving behind? No doubt, a country wracked by civil war and terrorism.
The dialogue being initiated between the US and the insurgents who are willing to ‘negotiate’ and ‘rehabilitate’ seems flimsy. There is no way all the insurgent Taliban are on board for these talks. It is now being speculated that the Taliban faction that is willing to talk to the US is Mullah Omar’s as he has distanced himself from al Qaeda. However, the Haqqani network is still a close ally of al Qaeda. No surprise then that the Haqqani group has claimed responsibility for this attack — following the same pattern of its terror attacks aimed at targets in Kabul. This is devastating for the US withdrawal plan. With a vehement strain of the Taliban attacking the US and showing their defiance at any mention of negotiation, the transition process will find it difficult to make headway. The attack on the Intercontinental Hotel is just the latest spoiler in the run up to the potential peace process that is embryonically underway. Hope seems bleak in front of the looming spectre of civil war. – Dailytimes