Local officials were meeting with diplomats from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with regards to its humanitarian efforts in the country.
Fourteen people were injured and twelve people were killed by the bomb blast. This included five humanitarian workers from the UAE, the nephew of the wife of former Afghan President Hamid Karza, Abdul Ali Shamsi – the deputy governor of Kandahar, and Yama Quraishi – the head of the passport section at the Afghanistan Embassy in DC. Juma Mohammed Abdullah Al Kaabi, the Emirati ambassador to Afghanistan, died a month later because of injuries sustained during the blast.
On the same day, there were three other attacks that took place in the country. Two occurred in the country’s largest town Kabul and the other one was in Lashkar Gar, the capital of the Helmand province. All three were suicide attacks and were claimed by the Taliban.
However, no responsibility has been taken for the Kandahar bombing. Suspicion was naturally towards the Taliban, but it fiercely denied any responsibility. It said that the local rivalry in the government was behind the attack and it even reportedly sent a delegation to mourn those that died in the bombing.
Afghan police, its intelligence agency and a UAE investigation team found that Sayed Mahboob Agha, the cook at the guesthouse, was one of the main operatives in the bombing. He was reportedly promised a house in Pakistan and $30,000 for helping with the attack. He made a few trips to the border of Pakistan and he carried explosives into the guesthouse. He was also instructed to phone the Taliban on the arrival of the guests.
However, there are questions about Iran’s involvement. When the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar died in 2013, a power vacuum was created. He was replaced two years later by Mullah Akhtar Mansour but his legitimacy was thrown into question and infighting occurred. A dissident faction was established a few months later and led by Mullah Muhammad Rasool in opposition.
Rasool founded the High Council of Afghanistan Islamic Emirate which has close ties with Iran. In 2016, Mansour was killed by a US drone strike while he was returning from Iran. Hibatullah Akhundzada took over from Mansour, but the dispute with Rasool continued.
Last week it was reported that there was a clash of militants representing Akhundzada and Rasool in the western Herat province which borders with Iran.
Rasool had a motive for the Kandahar attack – to discredit and challenge the Quetta Shura and Pakistan. But so did Iran – to exert more influence in Afghanistan. Furthermore, the UAE has joined with Saudi Arabia to oppose Iran’s hegemony in the Middle East, so the attack could be seen as Iran’s way of punishing the UAE.