The fall of Kabul is almost certain view the rapid advancement of the Taliban
Amid the whirlwind pointed advances of the Taliban armed insurgents, the US embassy in Kabul has urged all American citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately, offering to loan them cash for the plane tickets, if necessary.
“The US Embassy urges US citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately using all available commercial flight options,” read an orange security alert from the diplomatic outpost on Thursday i.e. today. The embassy offered loans to Americans unable to afford plane tickets home, which are exorbitant and assistance with immigrant visas for the foreign family members. There seems to be urgency in the outpost for leaving Afghanistan as there is no hope for the Afghan government to survive more than a week as Afghan ministers are flying out to the US for safety. 3,000 troops are being sent to evacuate most of the staff as the US, cuts the diplomatic presence to essential core functions. Other western embassies are readying similar plans, and NATO allies are in a deep huddle, consulting among allies, monitoring the situation on the ground through satellite imaginary, fearing that the Taliban could lay siege to the Afghan capital Kabul, within days.
Australian Prime Minister says, he is working urgently with the USA to evacuate the last Afghans who helped Australian troops and diplomats, as the Taliban are just a few miles away from the capital Kabul. Commercial flights from Kabul are booked solid, in fact overbooked, with expatriates and Afghans holding visas for foreign countries attempting to leave as soon as possible to save their souls.
Tens of thousands of eager citizens escaping the Taliban’s advances in the provinces, meanwhile made a dash into Kabul the likely focus of the final assault, sleeping in the city parks and mosques.
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Peace negotiator Dr Abdullah Abdullah, alumni of AIIMS and famous eye surgeon, returned back to Kabul after days of meeting with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar and other senior leaders met on Friday on how to deal with the Taliban onslaught. But bad news haunts Governor Abdul Rahim Qayumi, who becomes the first Afghan Governor, who is taken captive while resisting the onslaught of the Taliban. He is also the brother of Salaami Rahimi, a chief negotiator for the Afghan team at Doha. Another Afghan commander Ismail Khan captured as the Taliban seize Herat. Two Scandinavian nations Norway and Denmark have decided to shut embassies and evacuate staff and the other three will follow – Iceland, Finland and Sweden.
Kabul has become the city of rumours and well ahead of the meeting, rumours swirled that Excellency Ghani could resign and hand over the power to an interim government that could negotiate a ceasefire with the Taliban which is moving towards Kabul like a raging bull. No such announcement was made. Instead, Mr Ghani’s Vice President, Amrullah Saleh, tweeted that the meeting decided “with conviction and resolve that we STAND FIRM AGAINST TALIBAN TERRORISTS”. Period.
The fall of Kandahar is by far the most significant victory for the Taliban. It is more symbolic that in the minds of the insurgents it symbolises the return of the Islamic Emirate that was proclaimed by Mullah Omar, a great enemy of the USA. People are leaving the city, leaving behind all their possessions as families run for both cover and life. Taliban’s new Governor for the captured Kandahar proclaimed a general amnesty for government employees and members of the security forces, but the city’s new rulers however raided the homes of several anti-Taliban commanders and former security officials.
The worst was yet to come and the Taliban also entered Pul-e-Alam, the capital of Mr Ghani’s home province of Logar just south of Kabul and captured its Governor and several other senior officials. The only big cities that the Afghan government still holds besides Kabul, are Jalalabad in the country’s east and the northern hub of Mazar-e-Sharif, which is surrounded by the Taliban.
The situation is changing fast and people are switching sides and loyalties and have started ‘paying tribute’, to the Talibani Commanders. Armouries are being looted and these pictures are making rounds on social media. The King is dead. Long live the King.
Though some American troops still remain in Afghanistan, new 3000 troops have landed on Friday and the US air force conducts air strikes with regular punitive intervals.
The alert went out shortly after the Taliban claimed to have captured Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city. Earlier, they claimed victory in the city of Ghazni, 150 km (95 miles) from the capital Kabul. Ghazni is the 10th Afghan provincial capital to fall to the Taliban since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan began in May. USA and Canada are pulling out all the translators and informants and their families to safe locations in the western world, such that all those who helped NATO forces are safe from the bullets of the Taliban.
The situation is precarious. US Embassy Kabul tweeted 24 hours before that “We’re hearing additional reports of #Taliban executions of surrendering Afghan troops. Deeply disturbing & could constitute war crimes.” To which William Dalrymple replied through a tweet, “Your own Biden government brought this situation about. It need never have happened”. A stark reality of the sad situation in Afghanistan. The US has still yet to get out of its Human Rights champion of the world.
Taliban capture of Afghan provincial city, Ghazni, as insurgents edge closer to capital, Kabul is an alarm bell to the world. The pullout is expected to be complete by the end of August, and US intelligence officials predict that the Taliban will control the capital sometime within the next several weeks to six months, according to a Washington Post report earlier this week.
Several hundred US troops remain stationed in Kabul, at the embassy and at the city’s airport. However, embassy employees who can perform their work remotely were already advised in April 2021 to leave, with the State Department citing “increasing violence and threat reports.”
Without US support, Afghanistan’s military has quickly wilted in the face of the Taliban threat. Troops stationed near the country’s borders have been driven out into the neighbouring countries, and earlier on Thursday, the US Embassy in Kabul reported that surrendering Afghan troops have been executed and their military and civilian leaders unlawfully detained by the Taliban forces, an act of extreme barbarism and inhuman act. US has forgotten what it did to the Japanese soldiers, which surrendered to the allied forces in Japan.
Taliban fighters are now in complete control of Afghanistan’s borders with Uzbekistan & Tajikistan, Russia’s Defense Minister has claimed. The embassy described the alleged executions as “deeply disturbing,” adding that they “could constitute war crimes.”
With the majority of its troops gone, such strongly-worded statements are all that remain in the US diplomatic arsenal. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki caught flak from critics on Wednesday for calling on the Taliban to reach a peaceful settlement with the Afghan Government and assess “what they want their role to be in the international community.” Indirectly the US Government is advocating that share the power with the Taliban and frees all militants, which were caught by the Afghan national army. India had gifted two helicopters and these helicopters have been captured by the Taliban in an assault.
Psaki was roasted for saying the Taliban must ‘assess role in the international community as militants seize 60% of Afghanistan. Utterly disrespectful to the new world order or I may say disorder.
Though US-mediated peace talks are currently underway in Qatar, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani told Bloomberg on Monday that the group is only interested in “trying to grab power by force,” while Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Axios on Wednesday that the group has “never yielded to any foreign pressure tactics before and we do not plan to capitulate any time soon either.”
Michael Kugelman views the entire situation and says “I never liked the Saigon analogies with Afghanistan. For one thing, US forces aren’t under fire as they withdraw. But events of the last 24 hours and the prospect of US diplomatic evacuations as the Taliban draws closer to Kabul, bring Saigon to mind. In a big way.
The US lost prestige for Vietnam but the consequences of Afghanistan’s loss are far greater. The revival of global jihadism will grow. I have faint memories that when US helicopters were leaving the Saigon from the embassy premise, the Saigonese warriors were firing them. It is a warning sign for US-NATO allies that they cannot rely on US military power.
It is also an encouragement to medium-sized powers that they can outmanoeuvre superpowers by mixing defiance with friendly pretences.
More than 2,50,000 people face hunger and homelessness after fleeing their homes amid Taliban gains, with 80% reported to be women and children.
If sheer propaganda and blatant lies could win you (US) the war, the Taliban would’ve been defeated a decade ago. Two days after announcing to have defeated the Taliban in Helmand, it fell to the Taliban and General Sami Sadat disappeared.
India is worried regarding the civil war in its neighbourhood. 3 Indian engineers working in Afghanistan in the Taliban area were airlifted. Ministry of external affairs joint secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) went to Doha and met Afghan leader Abdullah Abdullah along with the Indian envoy in Qatar. India is working on a plan to accommodate Afghan refugees and victims of Taliban / Pakistan terror violence. Details are likely to be announced soon. India has received hundreds of save our souls (SoS) messages as hundreds of weeping families violently shake foreign embassies and consulate iron doors in soon to be beseeched Kabul. Indian embassy will also be evacuated and closed as it shuts down its consulates across Afghanistan.
The world waits for civil war with bated breath. Ragtag Taliban has beaten both Russia and the US hands down. The common factor in both cases was Pakistan as China has kept mum, even though they killed Chinese engineers – It is the silence of the lambs.
Title Image Courtesy: NDTV
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