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On Friday, April 1st 2011, an angry mob was incited to attack a UN compound in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan. The mob stormed the base and 7 UN workers were killed.
Too much internet comment has been posted elsewhere debating the pretext, excuse or perceived insult which was used by the mob’s ringleaders to incite the mob to attack. This topic is intended to leave that subject well alone.
I reject that other discussion as irrelevant to the real needs here which are a discussion of how and why UN workers were vulnerable, undefended and left to die and who is responsible.
How it went down
Only about 60 police were deployed, and they appeared uncertain how to respond. Initial attempts to disperse the crowd by firing warning shots appeared only to inflame the demonstrators.
Useless policing. Civil police need to keep protesting crowds or mobs intent on attack (hard to tell the difference initially) at an agreed protest line, which if passed without permission, especially in large numbers who can’t be arrested then the attacking mob should be shot. It is up to the civil police to control the crowd. If they don’t hold the crowd back it is the civil authorities fault when a mob gets shot down.
They phoned for help from the nearby military bases of German and Swedish forces, according to a person briefed on the situation.
Useless. Nearby is not near enough. The UN base or compound should be embedded within ISAF bases so an attack on the UN looks like an attack on ISAF, which it is.
The U.S.-led military said the situation “escalated rapidly” and that a swift-reaction team didn’t arrive until after rioters were gone.
Useless. If the UN were depending on “swift” being swift enough to save them, they were wrong and misled. The UN should have leadership which tells them – you are not safe being “nearby” you need to be surrounded by a competent military defence.
Once demonstrators flooded the compound,
Useless compound defence architecture. It should be impossible for a crowd to breach a secure compound and if they try there should be fire power to kill those attempting to breach the compound or base
a dozen Afghan police guards—the first line of defense—dropped their weapons
Useless guards. A dozen professional loyal soldiers manning 4 machine guns could probably have saved the day even at that stage.
The Afghan police are neither professional nor loyal to the UN so the UN should never have put their lives in the hands of Afghan police.
Inside the compound, a small contingent of Nepalese Gurkha guards working for the U.N. faced a conundrum: They were under U.N. orders not to open fire on demonstrators. The videos show one guard feebly trying to wave an elderly demonstrator out of the compound.
Gurkhas are not useless man for man. But 4 to 6 Gurkhas is not enough to hold off such crowd who by this time are armed with guns taken from the police.
When a mob breaches a secure compound they are clearly an attacking mob not “demonstrators”. The senior members of the UN should have made that clear. If the Gurkhas had been better led they would have been able to put up more of a fight, but expecting so few of them to make up for failings everywhere else is unrealistic.
Inside the building, other attackers targeted one of the safe rooms. The door proved little protection against the mob.
Useless. Defence architecture needs to be more secure areas within secure areas. Those inside a safe room or bunker within a compound or base need to be able to kill those trying to enter the safe room.
The attackers searched the darkened bunker with a lamp and discovered Lt. Col. Siri Skare, a 53-year-old Norwegian military attaché—the former fighter pilot—seconded to the U.N., along with Joakim Dungel, a 33-year-old Swede who had been working in the human-rights office for less than two months, and Filaret Motco, a 43-year-old Romanian who headed the mission’s political section.
Useless. Any defence attache worth their salt would know they were sitting in a death trap and would have refused to be responsible for such a poorly defended UN compound and would have ordered everyone out and relocated to the ISAF base.
Norway is a sick monarchy with a King of Norway who thinks it is funny or cute to appoint a penguin in Edinburgh zoo as one of his senior officers. I am not kidding.
The Norwegian military is not right in the head to have allowed UN staff into that suicidal UN compound.
Norway is responsible for the Nobel Peace prize and that is what happens to those who trust the Norwegian King, his peace prize or his military attaches. The Norwegian King gets you killed. Remember that.
This is a primarily a problem of lame security at the UN compound: badly constructed, probably poorly located, insufficiently guarded, guards insufficiently armed. Poor organisation from start to finish.
All that is needed is to be better armed and trained than the attacking mob, as this video from the movie “Zulu” illustrates.
You need to have enough defensive fire power to stop as many as keep attacking
It is missing the point entirely to consider what the mind-set of the attacking mob might have been. Who cares what their motives for attacking are? It matters not when you are defending. What matters is to be armed and prepared to stop and repel their attack.
Yes you can break this down into individual failures but the failure is one of leadership at the very top of the UN organisation.
If anyone is to be held responsible over this, it should be Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General.
This importance of this story is the shocking fact that UN bases in Afghanistan are practically undefended and a mob could easily storm a base and kill those inside.
UN security is a joke.
The UN needs to sack the UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon for his gross incompetence in failing to defend UN personnel.
Ban Ki-Moon: totally useless.
The UN has a lot of great principles to uphold – universal human rights etc, but these need to be upheld at the point of gun, with proper military organisation, which the UN should be able to do, in principle, but with the wrong leadership, like Ban Ki-Moon’s wrong leadership, fails to do.
The world’s dictators don’t want UN principles imposed upon their countries – they’d rather lock up or kill their political opponents – so these dictatorial governments would rather the UN was ineffectual, defenceless and impotent, like Ban Ki-Moon is.
That is why so many of the rotten governments of the world get to together at the UN to appoint such useless “hearts and flowers” types like Ban Ki Moon or Kofi Annan.
The UN leadership must prevent UN workers being killed as they go about the UN’s business – by for example, making sure that UN compounds are properly defended with a robust military not afraid to shoot violent attacking mobs like that Afgan mob who killed the 7 UN workers in Mazar-e-Sharif.
We need to get some good military, security and safety advisors in position with orders to defend UN workers’ lives using all means necessary, including machine-gunning attacking mobs no matter how many attack.
I want the UN leadership to defend our guys, to take sides, to realise this is war and to fight it to win.
I want the life of one loyal UN worker to be valued more by the UN high command than the lives of all in an attacking mob because we need those UN workers to achieve the UN’s long term goals and we don’t need any of those in such attacking mobs.
The right to protest, but not the right to kill
I am the last one to suggest machine-gunning protesters or demonstrators, having been a protester or demonstrator myself on a number of occasions.
A mob incited to lethal violence is a different thing from a crowd of peaceful demonstrators and our soldiers need to know the difference and react differently in both cases.
The mob attack on the UN compound was not a case of spray painting “Go home infidels” and smashing a few windows. This was a determined attempt to enter a “secure” (supposedly) base wherein people are being defended to inflict mob violence on those inside.
This was not an attack on property or vandalism but a murderous mob, there is a difference, and everyone has the right of self-defence in such circumstances.
The chances of reasoning with or negotiating a peaceful outcome with such an enraged mob are slim. You should always have the fire-power available to kill such a mob and be prepared to fight to survive.
The defence architecture of a military or diplomatic base – that means – security barriers, fences, walls, gates, guard posts etc – needs to be carefully designed so that only welcome guests, in good order, can enter with permission.
It is the responsibility of the civil authorities on the outside to hold any angry mob back outside the exterior defence barrier.
An angry, violent mob which breaches the defence barriers must expect to be shot.
Now, it is different if it is an essentially peaceful crowd of demonstrators. If, for example, it is some disarmed students occupying their administrative headquarters to protest education cuts, that is different. I don’t know of any occasion in Britain anyway when the students’ union has killed university administrators.
However, we are talking about Afghanistan where the locals often are armed and there is a war going on, don’t you know?
The defence architecture of this UN compound in Mazar-e-Sharif, was inadequate in the extreme and the numbers, quality, loyalty and arming of the guards was also inadequate in the extreme.
This is not a case of being “wise after the event”. This is basic military tactics. The UN secretary general and his senior security advisors should not have put UN staff in the hands of such poor military experts as are advising them.
The failure for appointing people who don’t know what they are doing is the responsibility of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who the UN should sack forthwith.
Ban Ki-Moon is useless, he is failing to properly organise the military defence of UN workers in Afghanistan and elsewhere and UN workers are being killed like the 7 killed in Mazar-e-Sharif on Friday, 1st April 2011.
If not Ban Ki-moon then who for UN Secretary General?
I am hoping that Condi as UN Secretary General would find the weaknesses in the UN secretariat and administration and purge the incompetents whoever they are.
We need Condi as UN Secretary General, and I’ll be her head of security, if she’ll have me.
What would Condi do?
All I can say for sure is what I would do if I were responsible for UN security.
I can’t promise that Condi would appoint me as her Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security or that she would even give me a second thought. She has always seemed to ignore me.
So I can’t even promise that if Condi was made UN Secretary General she would instruct her Under-Secretary-General for Security and Safety to take expert advice from me.
In fact the guy that Ban Ki-moon appointed to that job, Gregory B. Starr
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today the appointment of Gregory B. Starr of the United States as Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security. Mr. Starr will replace David Veness.[/quote]
used to work as US Director of Diplomatic Security responsible for the security of US diplomats.
Gregory B. Starr is the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security. He was selected by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on May 6, 2009.
Prior to his appointment with the United Nations, Starr was the Director of the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), and the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary within Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) from March 1, 2007.
So Starr was the guy watching Condi’s back as secretary of state. He may even have got his job at the UN working for Ban Ki-moon with a reference from Condi. I don’t know.
This guy Starr might not be up to his job at the UN but maybe it is because he is not getting the support he needs from the UN Secretary General? Maybe if Condi was his boss he would perform better?
I am certainly not going to vouch for Starr. If Starr is the problem I would advise Condi to sack or demote him. If that was the right move to take I feel Condi would take the right move, if not on my advice then on the advice of her other supporters.
Condi has a lot of clever friends and supporters and we would not see her fail just because she has inherited someone in the staff who is not up to the job.
How to get Ban Ki-moon out and Condi in
The UN Secretary General must be nominated by the UN Security Council.
Every country has a right to change its mind and change its vote. None of us signed away our freedom to Ban Ki-moon.
We are not now all slaves of Ban Ki-moon with no right to reject our imposed master.
Every permanent member of the security council – the USA, GB, France, Russia & China has a veto over the nomination of the UN Secretary general – and so if any of them change their mind about the incumbent UN Secretary General and want him out, their veto is available to withdraw the nomination of the Security Council.
I would say the way to go would be to take advantage of the UN head quarters being in New York.
The UN is administered from 5 main buildings in the world – New York, Geneva, Vienna, The Hague and Nairobi.
In other words, kick out the dictatorships and make the UN what it is supposed to be – an organisation of nations, rather than an organisation of governments some of whom oppress their own nations.
To start the process the US in particular needs to come to its senses about Condi and stop pretending that having her out of power is in some way “a good thing”.