Things in Afghanistan are going downhill…to put it lightly.
The latest headline is Taliban Attack on Kabul Restaurant Rattles Close-Knit Expat Community in which we learn:
KABUL—Shock spread through Kabul’s close-knit expatriate community after the Taliban killed 21 people, including the International Monetary Fund’s mission chief and a senior United Nations official, in a dinnertime attack on a popular restaurant Friday.
With at least 13 foreigners—including at least two Americans—among the victims, this was the deadliest attack targeting foreign civilians in Kabul since the war began in 2001.
The attack was prompting many foreigners to reconsider their decision to live in the Afghan capital. “It’s shocking. Myself, I will personally not go to any restaurant at all,” one foreign humanitarian worker said Saturday. Many international organizations in Kabul placed their personnel on lockdown or imposed movement restrictions following the attack.
The attack targeting foreign civilians in Kabul was likely to accelerate an exodus of expatriates, already under way as international aid shrinks and U.S.-led coalition forces prepare to withdraw from the country by December.
The Lebanese restaurant targeted Friday was in Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan central district, home to many embassies, aid organizations and guesthouses. At about 7:30 p.m. Friday, a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up at the compound’s gate, officials said. Then two other insurgents burst in and gunned down the diners at their tables…
The article is even more gruesome if you read the whole thing.
I traveled to Afghanistan when I did out of fear I would never be able to do it again in my lifetime; that as soon as coalition troops pull out, the country will inevitably descend back into war.
Perhaps that was already evident in December 2012, but the security situation has deteriorated precipitously since then.
Afghanistan is on its way back to civil war and brutal theocratic control just as soon as the rest of the coalition troops pull out. Without oversimplifying the matter too much, the corrupt Afghanistan government has no will to stamp out extremism and a Taliban takeover is nearly inevitable.
So what I said in a post nearly three years ago entitled Seize the Moment: Travel While You Can holds true today–
When the opportunity arises for travel, take it. Life on this earth is too short too sit on the sidelines and reason with yourself that you will do it sometime in the future. Next summer. After graduation. For my honeymoon. When I retire. No–now is the time…
If you are considering travel to a place that you would like to see but are unsure whether to go now or later, think about how quickly situations can change. It is too early to tell whether Egypt will go the way of Iran in 1979 or Berlin in 1989, but I doubt you are planning a trip to Egypt this fall–even if you have wanted to see the pyramids all your life…
Egypt is still a mess (though I would go now) and while the media tends to blow most problems out of proportion, the problem in Afghanistan cannot be underestimated.
So I think you have 6-10 months to visit Afghanistan. After that time, it will close off for another generation, being either too unsafe to travel there or too difficult due to burdensome visa regulations from a theocratic dictatorship.
Remember what my guide said–in Taliban-controlled southern Afghanistan he would be executed for trimming his bead. That’s not a country I would likely risk going to.
To think that I drove right by that restaurant in which 21 people lost their lives is sobering. To think that so many Afghans will soon find an already brutal life far more bleaker than today is even more sobering.