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The horrific debacle in Afghanistan, which has unravelled into total chaos with lightning speed over the next few weeks and ensure the return of the Taliban to power after the year 2001, is one more signpost of the end of the American empire.

The two decades of combat, the one trillion dollars the US spent, the 1,00,000 troops deployed to subdue the brave Afghanistan, the high-tech gadgets deployed in war, artificial intelligence firmware and tools, the robotics front line defence soldiers, cyber warfare, fake news warfare, news spins in the friendly western media, perception management, Reaper drones armed with Hellfire missiles and GBU-30 bombs and the Global Hawk drones with high-resolution cameras, Special Operations Command composed of elite rangers, SEALs and air commandos, black sites, torture cells and make shifts prisons, electronic surveillance, software like Pegasus to track enemy conversations, geostationary satellites tracking real-time movements, attack aircraft, mercenary armies, infusions of millions of dollars to buy off and bribe the local elites and train an Afghan army of 3,50,000 by powerful NATO Commanders and allied troops, that has never exhibited the will to fight, failed to defeat a guerrilla army of ragtag but heavily armed and highly motivated and ruthless 60,000 that funded itself through opium production and extortion in one of the poorest countries on earth.

The US withdrawal is becoming increasingly fraught amid Taliban takeover, as embassy staffers in Kabul have reportedly been told to destroy sensitive documents and computers as they prepare to evacuate along with the takeover of the Afghanistan, san some portions in the Panjshir region near the border with Tajikistan.

 Afghanistan
PC: The Economic Times

The order was contained in a memo on emergency preparations for the departure of most embassy workers, according to a report on Friday by NPR, which obtained a copy of the message. It comes as the Pentagon rushes additional 3,000 troops to Kabul to ensure safe evacuation and follows an embassy advisory recently urging all US citizens to flee the country immediately.

These Americans were working on different projects as well as field workers of CIA and their informers, translators, cooks, heavy-duty truck mechanics and all other sundry miscellaneous part-time employees, which have been promised safe passage to the US, but the quick collapse has hindered many that how will they even reach the Hamid Karzai Airport!

Bring them all home, Mr. President is the war cry in the US. The US has failed in Afghanistan, the least we can do is get Americans out safely. US forces are scheduled to withdraw by the end of this month, but even weeks before that process can be completed, Taliban forces have already taken over parts of the country.

The Taliban took Kandahar, the country’s second-largest city, on Friday and moved within 50 kilometres of Kabul, the capital, with its capture of Logar province and within a day the Taliban entered Kabul and the President’s palace at an amazing speed and President Ghani along with his family fled the nation and was given asylum in UAE on humanitarian grounds.

Sweden and Netherlands abandoned their embassies, blocked their email ids and evacuated from Afghanistan without even informing their Afghan colleagues. Canada refused to evacuate Gurkhas guarding their embassy since they’re Indians and Nepalis. The west and its humanitarian ideals are just out in the open and is a shame for the western world!

The club of infamy Austria, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece and Germany of the European Union (EU) who decided last week that Afghan nationals should continue to be deported to Afghanistan will have to do it by trucks across the land border to deter them to come to the ‘club of infamy’ nations. This will be halted temporarily such that the situation improves.

The airport chaos is deafening. A military plane operated by the Dutch together with other northern European countries left Kabul without any people destined for the Netherlands on board Tuesday evening. Thousands of Afghans have stormed the civilian airport making it difficult for the army to maintain law and order and orderly evacuation of even foreigners with valid papers.

Most of the European embassy staff and Ambassadors were ruthless with their Afghan nationals and support staff. In the night they quietly left without an inkling to their staff. Scandinavian nations, Sweden and Netherlands dumped their staff and these two nations were the 1st foreign powers to dump their staff. New phone numbers and emails were posted on Twitter.

President Joe Biden ordered the withdrawal in April, signalling the end of the longest war in America’s history, and Afghanistan government forces have melted away or been overrun amid Taliban assaults since then, even though they were trained by the combined forces and nobody wants to lay their life and they surrendered.

US State Department officials are worried about the safety of American diplomats and fear that the evacuation could become like Washington’s 1975 exit from Saigon, when embassy staffers had to be plucked from a rooftop by helicopter, The New York Times reported on Thursday, citing five unidentified current and former Biden administration officials.

US negotiators have asked the Taliban not to attack the embassy, threatening the loss of foreign aid, the Times said. But state-backed NPR said the future of the embassy’s many Afghan workers “was not immediately clear.” The embassy memo indicated that a small consular staff will remain in Kabul, though it’s not clear how that would be feasible if the capital is captured by the Taliban.

Biden has insisted that the fears of a Vietnam-like exit are unfounded. When asked by a reporter last month about possible parallels to the Saigon evacuation, he said, “None whatsoever. Zero. What you had is, you had entire brigades breaking through the gates of our embassy, six, if I’m not mistaken. The Taliban is not the south: the North Vietnamese army. They’re not, they’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability.”

There are people out there that reached their necks out for the Netherlands and it’s about 50 families that need to be evacuated. Such was the attitude of some governments and their citizens vent their anger on social media.

There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable. Not everyone is convinced. US Representative Mike Rogers (R-Alabama), a ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said American lives have been put at risk by Biden’s “haphazard” withdrawal from Afghanistan. As a result, he added, the turmoil in Afghanistan is unsurprising, and “the worst is yet to come.”

“Weeks ago, President Biden promised the American people that we would not have a Saigon moment in Afghanistan,” Rogers said in a statement on Thursday. “Now, we are watching President Biden’s Saigon moment unfold before us.” The Congressman predicted on Friday that the withdrawal deadline will be missed as more troops are sent to the Central Asian country to defend their interests.

In addition to the 3,000 troops who have already been dispatched to Afghanistan, 4,500 to 5,000 others are being moved to bases in Kuwait and Qatar, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday. About 3,500 to 4,000 are from the 82nd Airborne Division and will be put on standby in Kuwait, “in case we need even more than the 3,000 going to Kabul,” Kirby said.

The remaining 1,000 will be used to speed up visa processing in Qatar for Afghan interpreters who helped the US military during the 20-year war and fear Taliban reprisals.

Ronald Neumann, former US ambassador to Afghanistan, told NPR that a generation of Afghan people who “bought into our values” are now imperilled. By withdrawing rather than keeping a small stabilizing force in place, he said, the Biden administration now has to scramble, sending in a similar number of troops under adverse conditions while special immigrant visas (SIV) are processed for interpreters.

“The United States is now in a kind of panic, almost panic mode, trying to protect our own people and get out the so-called SIV,” Neumann said.

But the resistance movement to support the Afghanistan government is rising. The Afghan ambassador to Tajikistan rejects the Taliban rule of his country and says Panjshir province, north of Kabul, would serve as a stronghold for resistance led by self-proclaimed acting President Amrullah Saleh. It is rumoured that he is Russia’s man in Afghanistan and he is going to rule it. There are many indications which point towards the direction of Putin backing Saleh in his fight against the Taliban.

Unfortunately, killings continued unabated in Afghanistan by the Taliban. Haji Mullah Achakzai surrendered to the Taliban in the Bagdis province and was executed today, while they also executed a former Afghan police commander who did not surrender to the Taliban.

But the citizens are feeling the pain even from Kabul. Afghanistan national team’s footballer died in fall from a US plane at the Kabul airport. A total of 8 citizens died from the plane, which was such a ghastly sight for the people of Kabul.

The human tragedy – at least 8,01,000 people have been killed by direct war violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan and 37 million have been displaced in and from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya, and Syria according to The Watson Institute at Brown University is reduced to a neglected footnote.

As long as you have the power, we have hopes still alive but when adventurism eventually in the form of military wars take over the government, the hopes fade away!

Title image courtesy: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/8/19/

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of the Government of India and Defence Research and Studies.

Rajiv Prakash Saxena

By Rajiv Prakash Saxena

Rajiv Prakash Saxena was the Group Head at NIC for over a decade and was heading NIC prior to retirement after 33 years of service in 2015. He was instrumental for the rapid growth of NIC, working on several projects across Union Ministries and other agencies, including the Parliament, Law & Law Commission, NHRC, NCM, eSign, Certifying Authority (CA) to issue Digital Signature Certificates (DSCs), MoUD, Housing & Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO), Delhi Development Authority and many others. He has authored several guidelines to establish operational standards for the government agencies and a number of books in the area of his work. He has done 8 UN assignments across the globe for different UN organisations. Rajiv has won few awards, including best alumni from UBC, Vancouver. Rajiv was the founding Director of NCTI and NICSI and advisor to SIDBI and Delhi Police.