Thousands of jihadists are massing in the south of the Afghan capital, while what remains of the Afghan government hands over power to the Taliban regime which, after the withdrawal of American troops, took over almost the entire country in a matter of weeks.
The Taliban General Staff has ordered its fighters not to commit violent acts against the civilian population, and they assure that they will not take “Kabul by force”. Despite the Taliban regime’s promises, stores, banks and public entities are closed, and people remain in their homes as fighters have begun to arrive on the outskirts of the city, while several explosions can be heard.
From the government palace the Taliban proclaimed “victory” over the Afghan government. President Ashraf Ghani was already evacuated from Kabul and headed for Tajikistan, but was denied entry, so the flight had to be redirected to Oman. Meanwhile, the remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan are rushing to extract diplomatic personnel and evacuate Afghans who worked for the U.S. government.
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The terror produced by the Taliban is such that thousands of people crowd the Kabul airport trying to leave the country, but not all of them succeed. The world watched in pain as hundreds of Afghans clung desperately to a U.S. Air Force C-17 about to take off. After takeoff the tragedy occurred, a desperate Afghan who clung on until the C-17 took off lost his strength and fell to his death.
The remaining Afghan state is negotiating the transition of power with the Taliban, as confirmed by the Afghan Minister of Interior, Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal, who assured the residents of Kabul that there will be no fighting.
According to the Saudi TV channel Al Arabiya, President Ghani’s resignation is imminent and will take place in the next few hours. The Taliban are already in the presidential palace negotiating the departure of the rest of the government.
The Taliban control 26 of the 30 provincial capitals in Afghanistan, the latest conquest being the city northwest of Kabul, Mazar-I-Sharrif, where Taliban resistance leader Atta Mohammad Noor had to flee.
Noor, who was part of the mujahideen guerrillas during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, a warlord after the fall of the communist regime, and later a leader in the resistance forces to the Taliban government in the Northern Alliance, denounced that there was a plot within the Afghan Security Forces to hand him and his General Staff —along with war material of the collapsed army— over to the Taliban.
Everything from rifles to helicopters have been left behind by the Afghan Security Forces, and today the Taliban are using them to continue their advance on what remains to be conquered in Afghanistan.
The establishment of a Taliban regime is a security problem for all powers
The fall of Afghanistan has become a geopolitical headache for all Western powers. For the United States, the fall of the pro-Western state it helped to establish in 2002 with the expulsion of the Taliban from power represents a severe blow to its security policy and especially for Joe Biden’s administration, which culminated his predecessor Donald Trump‘s policy of withdrawing the remaining American troops from the country.
Despite the fact that the withdrawal of troops had been agreed with the Taliban a year ago, the fall of Kabul makes a fool of President Biden who a month ago claimed that the Afghans had a well-equipped army and air force to defend themselves, and told the press that “it is not true that we believe that the Afghan government is going to collapse.”
Russia, although it has said it will maintain its diplomatic personnel in Afghanistan, has called for a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the Taliban takeover.
Many Taliban leaders fought Russian troops in the 1980s, and Chechen rebels took refuge and trained in Afghanistan, leading the Russian government to fight two bloody conflicts within its borders.
For its part, a few weeks ago China advanced talks in Tianjin with one of the main heads of the Taliban General Staff, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. China is concerned that Taliban influence could destabilize security on its border with Afghanistan where the majority Muslim population is predominantly Muslim or incite the already repressed Uighurs to revolt against the Beijing regime.
Baradar was one of the founders of the Taliban movement in 1994 along with Mullah Mohammed Omar. The word Taliban comes from the plural of students in Pashtun. Less than two years after its formation, the Taliban movement was able to spread across the country and overthrow the mujahideen warlords and establish its rule. The resurgence of Taliban forces evokes the fateful scenes of 1996, when the terrorist group first occupied Kabul.
The retaking of power by the Taliban is also a headache for Pakistan, which not only provided refuge to its fighters during the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, but also lent its intelligence service so that through a network of schools known as madrassas, hundreds of thousands of children, refugees from the conflict with the Soviets and the subsequent civil war, could be radicalized and swell the ranks of the Taliban.
Although Pakistan is a partial architect and sponsor of the Taliban, today it is aware of the monster it helped create. Since 2015 the relationship between Islamabad and the Taliban began to deteriorate with the emergence of Pakistani Taliban guerrillas unaware of the government. The good or bad Taliban narrative ended when two senior Pakistani Army commanders acknowledged before Parliament that the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban “are two sides of the same coin.”
The horrors of Taliban regime
As the Taliban enter Kabul, Afghan women fear a return to the dark days when they were forbidden to go out without a male companion, have to cover themselves with a burqa to be seen in public, be denied access to education or submit to a marriage to an almost unknown man, many years older, in accordance with Shariah laws.
Many Afghans recall with horror the former Taliban regime, where bans on media, books and even music became commonplace as being in accordance with the teachings of Islam. Many Afghans still remember how they lost their children to be re-educated in Taliban madrassas.
For the world, a Taliban-dominated Afghanistan represents a country that lends itself to harboring terrorists and feeding their finances through drug trafficking. For groups like ISIS or Al-Qaeda, the next Taliban regime will undoubtedly represent a new ally against the West.