By Zeba Noori
Insecurity, bombings, targeted assassinations, armed robberies, the detonation of magnetic mines and, from time to time, rocket fires on different parts of Kabul are the emerging scenes of the capital’s deteriorating security situation. This is while Amrullah Saleh, the former head of National Director of Security (NDS) and the current First Vice President, has been in charge of Kabul’s security – a period that critics believe has fueled a wave of violence and insecurity despite Saleh’s claimed notice of the situation.
Apparently, Saleh himself has realized this fact; because one of his most common reactions to the bloody terrorist attacks and rocket attacks in different parts of Kabul is his explicit acknowledgment of the failure of intelligence and security.
Despite Mr. Saleh’s confidence in removing ‘this stain of failure on the part of the government’, it appears to have been a major setback for him because the First Vice President, who has a track record of security management, had enough time to contain the capital’s insecurities. But neither he has made any progress during this time, nor he has been able to form a strategy to control the situation in the future, leading to further speculation about his ability and his intentions to manage the capital’s security.
Now that Saleh himself is acknowledging “failure” on a daily basis after every terrorist incident in Kabul, critics are asking whether the First Vice President, as the one in charge of the capital’s security situation, is an obstacle to Kabul’s security or a solution to it?
This question is serious because Saleh was in charge of the Ministry of Interior (MoI) for a month before being selected by Ashraf Ghani for his election team; and at that time, crime in Kabul was significantly reduced. The capital felt relatively safe for a limited period of time. Perhaps, based on the same experience, President Ghani appointed his first deputy to manage security in Kabul and curb deadly and unbridled insecurities.
However, the growing insecurity and Saleh’s daily confessions to successive failures to contain and manage the situation have raised doubts that he is no longer able to deliver on his promises, and that the current insecurity in Kabul is beyond his powers.
On the other hand, a number of experts have suggested that the unprecedented escalation of insecurity, killings, violence, assassinations and rocket fire in Kabul may be related to Amrullah Saleh’s mission to secure the capital. In their view, since Amrullah Saleh comes from an anti-Taliban military and ethnic barrier, the Taliban and other allied forces may have deliberately expanded Kabul’s insecurity during his tenure to include him, along with other government security figures, in the list of failed and inefficient figure.
In a more pessimistic assessment, some experts extend the same suspicion even to Saleh’s critics, opponents and political and ethnic rivals within the government, and even the Presidential Palace, saying that perhaps part of the current insecurity in Kabul is due to Amrullah Saleh’s opponents who are inside the system to defeat him.
Another part of the criticism is related to the way he informs and his attention to the case-by-case investigation of security incidents and criminal offenses in Kabul. He mainly uses Facebook for information, and in his numerous Facebook posts, he even reports on how to deal with delinquent drivers, peddlers, local criminals, and anonymous thieves. However, critics say his job as the country’s First Vice President is to formulate macro-policies, strategies, and present national and overall plans to contain the crisis, not to deal with trivial matters. He must correct the system, not the effects of a defective, inefficient and corrupt system.
Some critics even suggest that Amrullah Saleh, along with President Ghani, are deliberately trying to ignore Kabul’s security, which can then help them derail the ongoing intra-Afghan talks. Since, the role of President Ghani and his team is limited in the intra-Afghan talks being led by High Council of National Reconciliation (HCNR), led by Abdullah Abdullah and composed of ex-Jihadists and prominent political leaders, Ghani and Saleh would never want it to succeed in talks. Moreover, progress in intra-Afghan talks under HCNR may also lead to the formation of an interim government, which Arg would never want. Therefore, President Ghani, through Amrullah Saleh, are on the mission to derail peace talks by promoting violence and then using the same to defame Taliban and peace talks.
Whatever the reason, it is Saleh’s responsibility to ensure peace in the capital. Deterioration in security means he is not capable to control the situation and must withdraw from this responsibility; otherwise, the situation will not only threaten the security of the capital, it will also hamper the ongoing peace talks.
Saleh’s Incapacity and Unwillingness to Ensure Security
By Zeba Noori