Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Not A Speck Of Dust"

Assailants stormed Kabul's most popular luxury hotel Monday, killing at least six people as they hunted down Westerners who cowered in a gym -- a coordinated assault that could signal a new era of brazen Taliban attacks.

Despite heavy security at the Serena Hotel, the gunmen threw grenades and fired AK-47 assault rifles, and one blew himself up. An American and a journalist from Norway were among the dead, officials said.

It was the deadliest direct attack on a hotel in Kabul since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

The assailants appeared to concentrate their assault on the Serena's gym and spa, where foreigners relax and work out at night, suggesting that the assailants had cased the hotel.
Context: the Serena is the only five-star hotel in Afghanistan. It's in the heart of Kabul's relatively secure government center, and is the best option in the city for foreign officials and executives. The security is probably among the tightest of any hotel in the world. In 2006, it was featured in this New York Times article as an "emerging destination."

Take a look at the photos on the hotel's website here. Note the caption below this photo. Get a sense of the security here and here. And an unheeded sign here.

For those trying to prevent Afghanistan from joining the rest of the world, there might not have been a better target than the Serena. Foreign investors bring development expertise and capital. But before they'll come, they need to feel somewhat confident they won't get gunned down on a treadmill in their hotel's gym. Make it clear that there's no safe haven -- not even the most protected hotel in the most secure part of a country's largest city -- and you affect the flow of much-needed investment capital from abroad.

Simple, cost-effective, and depressing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sure beats the hell out of the shipping containers the GIs live in at Bagram.

1/15/2008 7:55 AM  
Blogger LFC said...

"But Dick, I thought you told me we already won in Iraqistan."

--George W. Bush

1/15/2008 1:05 PM  
Blogger KWohlmut said...

John Robb refers to this under the general category of "systems disruption". With an extremely small input of manpower and money, terrorists can achieve hundredfold or thousandfold returns in terms of damage wrought and economies disrupted.

1/15/2008 4:42 PM  
Blogger Jen Clark said...

You know, if I were a local and my neighborhood was transformed into a war zone, I would be so offended if the occupiers built themselves this kind of palace to stay in. One of the people that survived the attack said she is in Afghanistan working for Save The Children. Well, I can't afford to stay in hotels that nice when I'm in a cheesy place like Vegas. This is the accommodations for Save the Children? I just assumed they were staying in modest dwellings with the people, not in a luxury fortress.

Now, I don't want to hear anyone say that I'm for suicide bombing because that is beyond absurd, but can't we understand why Afghani's would be pissed? Isn't it tragic that someone got so frustrated that they felt the need to blow themselves up to get attention?

Maybe the focus should be on stabilizing the daily lives of Afghanistani's before we focus on exposing tourism to Africa and East Asia as Serena (aka Tourism Promotion Services) aims to do. (Check out the "Company" link on the hotel's website).

1/15/2008 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Gus said...

jen, I wonder if it's safe for people with NGOs to stay with the people. If it isn't that's also depressing.

1/15/2008 5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's why most of the NGO crowd gets such a bad rep. A lot of them are do-gooders who don't want to get their hands dirty.

1/16/2008 7:49 AM  
Anonymous David said...

My guess is at least portion of the Save The Children staff are volunteers who can afford to stay wherever they want when they do international charity work. Just not sure I'd work myself into a fit over that aspect of the story. Having stayed at the Nairobi Serena I can attest to the very tight security employed by this hotel chain. If Serena can't prevent this sort of occurrence, neither can anyone else.

1/16/2008 9:56 PM  
Anonymous youtube converter free said...

Undoubtedly, the chap is absolutely fair.

6/16/2011 4:04 PM  

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