Rising Tensions in Afghanistan

There have been numerous changes in Afghanistan over the past week, from civilian attacks to corruption charges. There was a strike on a mosque on Friday, May 24th, which led to numerous deaths and casualties. There was also violence at the hands of Afghan security forces, which has resulted in significant societal backlash. There have also been raised corruption charges against President Ashraf Ghani, which may be politically motivated due to the upcoming elections in September.

 Recent Violence

 On May 24th, there was an attack on the al-Taqwa mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan. There were two people killed, and at least sixteen wounded. A senior Muslim preacher, Mawlawi Samiullah Raihan, was one of the people killed. According to a district police official, the bomb was placed in the microphone used by Raihan. No terrorist organization has been deemed responsible, but both the Taliban and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) have been known to orchestrate attacks in Kabul.

Afghan security forces also recently killed six innocent civilians during an insurgency raid on Friday, May 24th. This raid, which took place in the eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, was aimed towards Taliban insurgents in the region. The security forces, who wrongly assumed an escaping family was a group of fighters, shot at their vehicle, killing everyone who was inside of it. The next day numerous villagers brought their bodies to the province’s capital, Jalalabad, in an outcry. Between January and March of 2019, Afghan and other international security forces have killed over 300 people alone. They have also injured over 300 people. These numbers show that there are significant civilian casualties  administered by both security and insurgency forces.

Corruption Charges

The corruption charges against President Ashraf Ghani were brought forth by General Habibullah Ahmadzai, who served as a former senior advisor for Ghani. He mentioned the accusations during a television interview with Khurshid TV last week, and they were supported by Mariam Wardak. She had previously served as a consultant to President Ghani’s former national security advisor, and she backed Ahmadzai’s accusations in an interview with Indian news channel World Is One News on Saturday, May 25th.

 The claims against President Ghani include, “the exchange of sexual favors for government posts,” according to the New York Times. There is no evidence for these accusations, which raises the question of whether they were politically motivated. The consequences of these claims are extreme, and not just in the political sphere. The topic of women in the workforce is already met with a lot of hesitancy by many, which might be exacerbated by the possibility of the president condoning such acts. The acting minister of mines and petroleum, Nargis Nehan, stated in a Twitter post, “I can say with confidence that these allegations are baseless.” Mr. Chakhansuri, who is serving as the presidential palace spokesperson, contributed General Ahmadzai’s unsuccessful parliamentary run to his accusatory comments.

 There has been tension within Afghanistan on various different developments, especially the seemingly never-ending violence and the current political scandal. The recent mosque bombing and the death of a senior Muslim preacher, as well as the death of innocent civilians during an insurgency raid, caused upheaval. While President Ghani has people in his administration defending him, there are also individuals who have spoken out regarding his supposed corruption scandals. Whether further action will be taken on this matter is still to be seen.

Photo Credit: Dominique A. Pineiro