What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Baghlan bombing update

The people at the NPS Program on Culture and Conflict Studies have a short article, in the very first issue of their online journal, on the Baghlan bombing. They were looking to assemble data on the victims and some of the background on the bombing, similarly to me.
It's interesting to see how they have some information to offer on each of the Wolesi Jirga members who were killed, but I'm puzzled a little seeing that they ended up calling Mustafa Kazemi a Tajik (to my best knowledge he was a Hazara politican; he used to belong to the Hizb-i-Wahdat). And you know, after all he was one of the most important victims of the November 6 blast, and certainly not one of those MPs on whom it would have been the most difficult to dig up information. The authors use very few references which is certainly not good, although I do see among the ones listed that they read Registan at least.
Anyway, something that nicely complements what I have amassed so far on the Baghlan bombing (not compensated for this financially by the U.S. government, I should point out), is that they do ponder what the consequences of the bombing in terms of the electoral process could mean. I'll bring in an excerpt here:
" According to Article 108 of the Constitution, the six deceased parliamentarians will need to be replaced with a new election:
“In cases of death, resignation, or dismissal of a member of the Wolesi Jirga, and / or disability or handicap, which prevents performance of duties permanently, election in the related constituency is held for a new representative for the rest of the legislative period, in accordance with the law.”
... the affected provinces will have to hold snap elections under the threat of resurgent violence.
(...)
Against rising security concerns, it is apparent that a new election to fill the now empty seats in parliament will be a costly and risky venture. "
Agreed. Mostly with regards to Helmand (from where Engineer Abdul Mateen was voted in), and in Kunar (home province of Al-Haj Sahiburrahman).
Talking about Engineer Abdul Mateen, here are some excerpts from IWPR on his funeral:
" President Hamed Karzai declared a three-day mourning period, and held an official memorial ceremony for the slain parliamentarians in front of the Darulaman Palace, the site of the legislature’s new building. Five of the six members of parliament were laid to rest in front of the palace on November 8, amid tight security.
But Engineer Abdul Matin, who represented Helmand province, was buried back in his native village. Despite intense pressure from Kabul, including a personal telephone call from the president, his relatives refused to allow the burial to take place elsewhere.
(...)
Initially, the plan was that Matin’s remains would be flown to Helmand for a funeral service, then returned to Kabul to be buried alongside those of his colleagues. His casket arrived on a military helicopter on October 8 and was met by assembled dignitaries.But once the body was in Helmand, Matin’s family refused to allow it to leave, and the funeral went ahead in Qala-ye-Bost.
The funeral cortege, which included Helmand governor Assadullah Wafa and a host of other provincial officials, was surrounded by military vehicles as it made its way down the bumpy, five kilometre cobblestone road that links Lashkar Gah with Qala-ye-Bost. Every 20 metres, police with guns and grenade-launchers surveyed the surrounding area.The governor left the procession at Qala-ye-Bost, but the convoy continued down a narrow path to where the Arghandab and Helmand rivers converge.
(...)
Gul Agha Bawer, Matin’s brother, who had come from Britain to take part in the ceremonies, insisted that the burial must be in Helmand. "
There's much of a blame game going on. Accusations referring to the Karzai government's complicity as well as that of the United National Front are circulating. And the UNF is actively using the events to mobilise support, notably even in Kabul, openly campaigning even in schools to capitalise on what happened. As I said, a blame game like this is very much in the interests of the more likely culprits, like e.g. HI-G.
Meanwhile, one press account gives a better description of how body guards ended up shooting people after the blast:

" Witnesses described how, for five minutes after the blast, bodyguards armed with automatic weapons “rained bullets” into the thick, black smoke. "

It would still be interesting why they felt they might have whom to shoot at, but at least the smoke might suggest that they didn't kill civilians entirely deliberately.
And here's something particularly interesting I've just found to add to all this:

" The bodyguards got nervous and started shooting. The police started firing, too. They even tried to shoot me," the teacher said, angry tears coming to his eyes. He pointed to a splintered pine tree where the bomb had detonated. "It was horrible. People were running and screaming, but it just went on. Five other teachers were killed by bullets, and so many students. They should all have been in class studying. "

If true, this might explain why there was so much shooting, the number of victims, and the motivation, too. With smoke and with people running and screaming shots fired by just one panicked body guard, or a policeman, might have led to the others' opening fire, with the intention of trying to "return fire."
Disclaimer, as always: I'm just trying to reconstruct the events here. I may or may not succeed in accurately doing so.
I'd like to know who the authors of the recently released UN-DSS report were; if the Wolesi Jirga members all had their own armed escort or if they had a common team of body guards; if the suicide bomber has been identified by now or if anything can be revealed about him on the basis of his remains (also to see that there was a sucide bomber really). My wish list is endless.
Update (November 28): A commenter responded to my raising the issue of Mustafa Kazemi's ethnicity at Registan. That commenter is not a source that uses references, either, but the hint given there - "he (Mustafa Kazemi) was a Qizzlbash Sayed - a Shia Tajik whom had a Hazara grandmother - hence his Hazara features" - is something I'm ready to give the benefit of the doubt. (Meanwhile, NPS responded, too, saying they see now that Kazemi was a Hazara; that comment of theirs came before what the mysterious "TAAJ" sent in.)
I'd suggest to the NPS team to find out about Kazemi's ethnicity, for based on what I know, they have this as one of their aims (to map who's coming from where), and they probably do have better means than I do.
And guys... why don't you start a blog if you want to interact more than just start another authoritative journal?

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