The Turmoil in Afghanistan

The Turmoil in Afghanistan

The rapid takeover of prominent Afghan provinces by the Taliban has left many abroad scratching their heads and created a scenario of bedlam among the Afghan forces. It has also revealed that the U.S training of Afghan troops and the determination of creating a robust Afghan military, for over two decades, proved to be a futile venture as the gradual pullout of the U.S from Afghanistan showed that without the scaffolding the Afghan soldiers are nothing. Taliban proved to be far prudent and are unstoppable in terms of seizing one province after another over the last couple of weeks. It gets to show us that they had been preparing for a long time and were waiting for the right moment to go all out.

According to the latest developments, 24 out of 34 provinces are now in Taliban control. Taliban has swept off the Country’s South at a lightning speed. The Helmand province is a fraught swath of territory, where the U.S, British, and the NATO forces have fought bloody battles of control but have lost more than gained, in terms of losing hundreds of troops to roadside bombs and brutal gunfights. The power dynamics have shifted in the favour of the Taliban after the fallout of Lashkar Gah- the capital city of the province- to the dismay of the West. On Friday, the Taliban also seized Pul-e-Alam, the provincial capital of Logar province, south of Kabul. Only Kabul remains the largest city under government control; whereas, Jalalabad and Mazar-i-Sharif along with the country’s second and third-largest cities- Herat in the west and Kandahar in the south have succumbed to the insurgents. The blitz through the cities of Afghanistan along with the American officials’ announcement on Thursday that they would evacuate most of the United States Embassy, has aggravated the situation and created a sense of panic across the country as thousands try to flee from the violence ensuing.

Fearing that the assault on Kabul is just days away, Pentagon is accelerating its plans of evacuating Americans from Afghan soil by moving 3000 Marines and soldiers to Afghanistan and another 4000 troops to the region. It seems that the Biden administration is bracing for a potential collapse of the Afghan government within the next month, according to administration and military officials. On the other hand, Afghanistan’s President, Ashraf Ghani is clinging to the last thread of his power and is not cognizant of ground realities. Ghani is losing support at home and from his foreign backers. Street demonstrations supporting his army have quickly fizzled out. Thousands of his soldiers are deserting him en masse and have decided that Mr.Ghani is not “worth fighting for”, Omar Zakhilwal, a former finance minister, tweeted on Friday.

The U.S endeavor in Afghanistan for twenty years to rebuild Afghan’s military has failed. The U.S has spent about a trillion-dollar in war and reconstruction projects, around 3500 international soldiers were killed. The current predicament shows that all of this has been for nothing. Taliban now controls roughly 70 percent of the entire nation’s territory, they couldn’t win all of this through their military might alone, the Taliban are well organized and have devised a strategic plan to exercise their influence on local elders and frightened government officials. On Friday, officials from Uruzgqn and Zebulon, two provinces long considered to be the Taliban’s heartland, said that local elders in both were negotiating a complete handover of the territories to the insurgent group. Several of President Ghani’s political associates have surrendered to the Taliban without any fight or fled in exile. Moreover, the Taliban has acquired U.S-made ammunition and guns- that was given to Afghan commandos in the fight against the former- to overrun Afghan forces. This in itself is satirical to the American efforts to stifle the Taliban.

President Ashraf Ghani is quite antagonistic to the Taliban, believing them to be an accomplice, his bitterness for the Pakistani establishment has been brewing for a much longer time now and has further embittered the Afghanis against Pakistan. Mr. Torek Farhadi, a former presidential advisor, says that Mr. Ghani has “demeaned the Taliban time and time again, saying, ‘you are the stooges of the Pakistanis.’” In return, the Taliban see him as the “stooge” of the Americans. Despite countless denials from Islamabad, the Afghan government has blamed Pakistan for providing a haven to the Taliban. In the recent Doha talks, aimed at breaking a deadlock in peace talks, Pakistan, the United Nations, and the European Union have vocalized their commitment to a “viable” political settlement.

An increasing level of violence between Taliban and government forces has exacerbated the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. An estimated 390,000 people have been displaced since the start of the year, according to the United Nations, but the actual numbers could be far higher. About a thousand civilians have been killed in just the last month alone. There have also been concerns over a fresh wave of refugee influx in neighboring countries.

Amid this fiasco, many in Europe and Asia question America’s credibility in being the political hegemonic power. For them, it has unraveled the shrouded notion that you cannot count on America. As pressure mounts on Ghani, his promulgation of resignation is imminent, and the grim future of Afganistan for many of its civilians too.