Taliban elements launched a lengthy, coordinated attack
against civilians and government buildings in Kabul on Monday. Militants associated with the Taliban have typically sought out
military targets, especially in the country's more rural southern
districts. Monday's attack, which included two suicide bombers, may
indicate the emergence of Taliban elements more interested in
terrorism than governance.
- Message: We Can Still Hurt Kabul The New York Times's Dexter Filkins reads the attacks as a message from the Taliban that it can still disrupt the Afghan government. "[I]ncreasingly the Taliban are bringing the fight into the cities, further demoralizing Afghans and lending to the impression that virtually no part of the country is safe from the group's penetration. The Monday attack seemed intended to strike fear into the usually quiet precincts of downtown Kabul — and to drive home the ease with which insurgents could strike the United States-backed government here."
- Good News: Afghans Defend The Economist finds good news in the defense mounted by Afghan security forces. Afghan President Hamid "Karzai can feel some pride in the performance of the police, army and various counter-terror units. [...] A few soldiers from NATO did join in the fray, but the bulk of the response was local because Afghan forces now have direct responsibility for guarding the capital." They write that"limiting the impact of the militants may be the best that Mr Karzai can hope to achieve."
- Rise of Haqqani Dawn, a prominent Pakistani newspaper, worries about the Haqqani network, an especially violent Taliban faction based in Pakistan, and suspects this group may be responsible for the Monday attacks. The group has increasingly close ties with al-Qaeda.
- Taliban Moderate Outreach The New York Times's Alissa Rubin finds that, as the Haqqani Taliban becomes more extreme, the "mainstream" Taliban elemtns headed by Mullah Muhammed Omar, go in the opposite direction. Terrorism has turned many Afghans against the Taliban, a shift that Omar, who wants the Taliban to return to its former role as the official Afghan government, is seeking to counter. That means Omar is issuing Taliban code-of-conduct rules "to soften their image and win favor" with civilians. "The dictates include bans on suicide bombings against civilians, burning down schools, or cutting off ears, lips and tongues."