The Taliban answered President Obama’s unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Tuesday, during which he declared that Western forces could leave on schedule in 2014 because of recent security gains. “We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan security forces. We devastated al Qaeda’s leadership”, the president said in his speech from Bagram Air Base that outlined his administration’s plan to end the Afghan war. The president also committed U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan until 2024 but the size and scope of the force is unclear.
Less than two hours after Obama left the country, however, the Taliban staged an attack in Kabul that killed seven people and wounded 17. The coordinated strike began with a suicide car bomber blasting away the gate protecting the capital’s Green Village compound, home to hundreds of foreign workers. Following the blast, four Taliban militants dressed as females in burqas entered an outer area of the compound and fought Afghan security forces for several hours until the last terrorist was killed. The strike highlights the Taliban’s ability to attack the Afghan capital, which is usually heavily guarded but was even more so on Wednesday because of the Obama visit and anniversary of bin Laden’s death.
Smoke billows from a compound attacked by Taliban militants in Kabul hours after Obama left Afghanistan. (Photo: Musadeq Sadeq / AP)
Following the attack the Taliban announced it would launch its annual “spring offensive” on Thursday, May 3, code-named Al-Farouq, with the primary targets being “foreign invaders, their advisors, their contractors, all those who help them militarily and in intelligence”. Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry less than three weeks ago prematurely praised Afghan officials and U.S. forces for deterring the offensive initiated annually by the Taliban.
“The goal that I set — to defeat al Qaeda, and deny it a chance to rebuild — is within reach”, Obama noted in his speech last night. The Taliban must “break with al Qaeda, renounce violence, and abide by Afghan laws”, the president said, or “face strong Afghan security forces, backed by the United States and our allies.”
But with President Obama’s clear intent to end America’s military role in Afghanistan, it’s no wonder why the Taliban aren’t quaking in their militant boots.