ALL EYES ARE ON KABUL, SO WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS?

All regional and international eyes are on developments in the Afghan capital, Kabul, seized by the Taliban after President Ashraf Ghani, his deputy Omarullah Saleh, and other state officials fled the country. The escape of the Afghan leaders prompted former President Hamid Karzai to ask the Taliban to control the capital. But what is so new that caused such a great shock to the world: a world which was waiting for the US and international forces (NATO) to exit two weeks from now? Is it the earlier departure, or the fact that the Taliban of today may be different from what the Taliban of the nineties? And what will happen to minorities and human rights? 

Having flown for 20 years, the US flag was lowered from the embassy in the Afghan capital, Kabul – which President Joe Biden described as the graveyard of all empires – with the entry of the Taliban movement into the city without fighting any battle whatsoever or shedding any blood. The lack of resistance encountered by The Taliban shocked the world and, in particular, the US administration, which expected the Afghan Army to put up a fight and hold its positions for at least six months. 

This is an obvious indication of the catastrophic inaccuracy and failure of the US intelligence services that were cited not so long ago by President Joe Biden. Biden had hope in the “300,000 Afghan soldiers” (in reality the number could be less than 100,000) which he said “were the best armed, and trained by US forces, while the Taliban movement has only 70,000 fighters”, spread over a geographical area equal to twice the size of Great Britain. This non-anticipated control by the Taliban of Kabul astounded the world. Now an attempt must be made to anticipate the future. The big question is: What now, after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan?

The Taliban forces were not expected to control the Afghan capital so quickly. Their delegation reached Doha, Qatar, on the same morning Kabul surrendered (the breakthrough took place at 17:20 local time) to hold a meeting with Afghan’s President Ashraf Ghani’s delegation, under Qatari-US sponsorship. The gathering hoped to reach an agreement on establishing a transitional government that would include all parties and influential ethnic groups in Afghanistan. However, rumours spread vigorously of the arrival in Kabul of the Taliban movement, causing panic in the capital- following its control of the Bagram airbase and the release of more than five thousand prisoners from Pul-e-Charkhi prison. The prison was estimated to be the largest in Afghanistan and contained a maximum-security cell block for many al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners.

This fear of the Taliban’s reaction once in the capital quickly prompted the security forces and police to evacuate their posts and withdraw from the streets. The lack of security forces allowed some thieves to seize the opportunity and loot many businesses. That triggered former President Hamid Karzai to contact the President of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah and the Pashtun leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to contact Taliban leaders and ask them to provide security and safety for the people. The departure of President Ghani to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, left the Afghan Army with no purpose to fight for and it relinquished its position defending the city.

The presidential palace was delivered to the Taliban leaders in a move agreed upon with President Ashraf Ghani, as part of a peaceful process in which no acts of sabotage or bloodshed occurred. These understandings did not prevent the mass flight from Kabul: thousands of Afghans headed towards the airport, especially those who believed in the validity of the rumors that circulated that everyone who came to the airport would be transferred to a European country or any NATO member country. NATO countries’ forces were interested in evacuating, in coordination with the US military command, their own nationals and diplomats from Afghanistan in the first place, and over 60,000 Afghan collaborators and their families in a second place. The Taliban allowed the evacuation to take place undisturbed. The Taliban wanted all foreign forces to leave, including Turkey, a NATO member, notwithstanding the ancient relationship between the two countries. All Afghan collaborators were pardoned to stay and given a choice to leave unobstructed if they wished to. The Taliban asked all those who collaborated with the US to stay at home and not leave the country because they have nothing to fear.The dust of these fast-unfolding developments has not settled yet. There are 

by  Elijah J. Magnier Via https://ejmagnier.com/2021/08/17/all-eyes-are-on-kabul-so-what-are-the-concerns/