That is what I am afraid of. Thursday is the Afghanistan National Election. An election that our Administration has said will be pivotal in determining the strategy and the amount of time we will remain in Afghanistan. An election that the Taliban has publically swore they will do whatever they can to disrupt. An election that is beleaguered with corruption allegations, back-door deals, and talks of run-offs already; long before the first ballot is cast.
This is also an election that the US and coalition forces have been working hard to secure so the Afghan people are free to vote in. As you have heard here before, Afghanistan is not Iraq. There are not major population centers that can be cleared of traffic and cleared for only foot traffic where people can put their fingers in purple ink. That is impossible in Afghanistan, so the level of security we witnessed in Iraq is not possible here.
We have seen over the last several weeks that the Taliban is capable of striking major government centers. We have seen them strike Khost, Gardez, Jalalabad, and this last Saturday we saw them hit Kabul for the 2nd time in two weeks. Of course this last Saturdayâ€™s attack on the NATO HQ sent a strong message. Not only did they attack Kabul, they attacked the headquarters of the NATO force that is charged with securing the election.
I have said it before, the Taliban are masters at managing the IO campaign and can get their message to the local people very effectively. They know the fears of the people so they can play to them with precision.
Over the last 6 weeks we have seen coalition forces launch major operations to secure polling places. We have seen the Taliban publish a â€œcode of conductâ€ that was supposed to direct them not to kill innocent civilians. We have also heard some of them say they would not disrupt the elections and then we have heard them say that is their main goal. Now we have Karzai saying he is working a truce with them in order to observe a day of cease-fire for the elections. Good luck with that.
We have seen the Taliban kill dozens of civilians, from overturned an truck that exploded in the middle of a bazaar to the attack this last weekend where they blew up a huge car-bomb far enough out from the NATO HQ to inflict very little damage. However they did kill 7 Afghans and wound around 100. They blew this bomb at the front gate where kids gather to sell their wares to the soldiers for a buck or two. My good friend Old Blue was in that exact spot a few weeks ago and had made a purchase from a little Afghan boy.
These next four days are going to be pivotal, and they could very well be history making. However I am also fearful that they could be Four Days of Hell.