On 26 February a suicide car bomber attacked a Turkish embassy vehicle that was part of a convoy carrying NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, former Turkish Ambassador Ismail Aramaz, killing one occupant and a passer-by. The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the bombing but later suggested it had been hoping to target US troops. This is implausible given both the type of civilian vehicles attacked and the location - outside the Iranian Embassy, which is next to the Turkish mission in the city’s diplomatic quarter. It may therefore be an effort to limit criticism over the targeting of fellow Muslims from a country that has previously negotiated over hostages. Moreover, the Taliban is aware that Ankara could ultimately be involved in talks over the country’s future because it is a diplomatic ally of Qatar, the most credible intermediary between the insurgents and Washington.
The incident nonetheless underlines the group’s desire to target foreign diplomatic missions and follows a similar attack on a British Embassy vehicle on the Jalalabad Road
The Taliban wants to portray itself as driving international forces and their diplomatic representatives out of the country. It is also seeking to demonstrate that the security environment is progressively worsening in order to damage the Government’s standing and the morale of foreigners based there who provide support to President Ashraf Ghani’s administration. Further plots targeting diplomatic missions and other Western interests are therefore likely over the coming months. Moreover, the growing involvement of Afghan personnel in fighting the militants means that defections from the security forces, already at a high level, could increase over the coming months, giving the Taliban better access to - and intelligence about - key facilities.