The repercussions of a Taliban massacre of more than 130 Afghan soldiers at an army base in northern Afghanistan last week are being felt widely.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani moved swiftly to sack the top leadership of the Afghan security forces as his administration scrambles to deal with the fallout from the bloodbath in Mazar-e Sharif in which 10 Taliban attackers tricked their way into the 209th Corps headquarters, Camp Shaheen.
In the ensuing shooting spree and firefight that went on for hours on April 21, the militant killed scores of soldiers. Most were offering their Friday prayers at the base’s mosque. Some were killed as they ate lunch in a dining hall. The attack is considered one of the worst against Afghanistan’s army, which is mostly trained and funded by Kabul’s Western allies.
Amid rising fears and anger over the government’s failure to prevent the attack, the massacre looms large over the morale of an overstretched Afghan National Army fighting an expanding Taliban insurgency. Afghanistan’s 350,000 security forces are already struggling with high casualty rates, indiscipline, and corruption.
To analyze the fallout and consequences of the massacre, we turned to Michael Semple, a former senior EU and UN diplomat in Afghanistan who is now a visiting professor at Queen’s University Belfast. Luke Coffey, a former U.S. Army veteran and director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation think tank, joined our conversation from Washington. I chipped in from Prague, and as usual RFE/RL’s Washington-based media relations manager, Muhammad Tahir, stirred our conversation.
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