Friends like these…
The British Council in Afghanistan is in flames with ten dead – including one foreign soldier and two street cleaners – and at the time of writing a battle is still raging to seize back control of what remains of the building that symbollises the soft power yelded by Britain in this war torn country. Today is also the day that Afghanistan freed itself of the hold of her former colonial master, Great Britain. Clearly the Taliban struck on this day at this target to get across their view of what they thought of any claims that today’s Britain was more benevolent than her imperial predecessor.
As gunfire echoed in one capital, reports from Libya say that the Nato backed rebels are close to seizing a key town which would open the road to Tripoli. The rebels who have made such claims before are as convincing the Northern Alliance warlords that some ten years ago made their bloody return to Kabul after a month of American bombing had broken the back of the Taliban.
The Northen Alliance then set about killing, looting and revenge rapes of women and young boys.
One of the leading figures in this saga, the Uzbek Raschid Dostum who had bloody reputation in the period between the withdrawal of the Soviet Union and emergence of the Taliban found hundreds of escaped Taliban fighers in the ancient fortress of Qali-Jhang and called in the airstrikes – 52 in total before flooding the holed up men with dirty water.
When the detainees emerged – one of whom was an American – they were transported in hot metal containers, which resulted in the deaths of a number more.
Men like this were meant to help build a viable government after the Taliban who had offered to give up bin Laden to a Muslim country were overthrown.
Today against the background of seemingly obvious defeat in Kabul the road is open to Tripoli, with another rag tag army full of ill disciplined men, who have already killed their commander in a feud, backed Nato firepower. Britain is the leading player here, she has also been a major – if symbollic – contributor to the campaigns in Afghanistan and of course Iraq.
And there is still the question of Syria..