Afghanistan is experiencing a marked increase in violence as it approaches presidential elections next month. A suicide bombing killed 16 people in north-western Afghanistan on Tuesday morning. The New York Times reports:
The last large-scale attack in Faryab was also in the capital, Maimana. It occurred in late 2012, when a Taliban suicide bombing outside a mosque killed more than 45 people and wounded at least 60.Ahead of the elections, which are scheduled for April 5, Afghan security forces have been taking pains to coordinate security and ensure that polling stations across the country can remain open for the vote. Such efforts have not always gone smoothly, often due to poor communication between police and army leaders.The Taliban have vowed to violently disrupt the elections, which are expected to result in the first democratic transition of power in Afghanistan’s history.
With American attention shifting to Ukraine and Syria, and the State Department and Pentagon essentially exhausted with Afghanistan, the country hardly seems to be the priority it once was. But this attack is another reminder that terrorism in Afghanistan is alive and well. Taliban militants are now waiting patiently for the American withdrawal, and aim to assert themselves on what they hope will be a weak Afghan security apparatus.There was never a likely scenario in which ISAF would leave Afghanistan perfectly safe and secure. But by making it clear exactly when America would pull out, Obama sent a message to the Taliban that now would be the best time to go on the offensive. Attacks like those in Faryab suggest that the message has been received.