|On Thursday, Aug. 12, smoke comes from gunfire between Taliban and Afghan security troops in Kandahar, southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan.|
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: The US is sending 3000 troops back to Afghanistan, with another 5000 on standby in Qatar and Kuwait, to assist with the evacuation of American personnel, following what is being viewed as a catastrophic military and diplomatic failure on Washington's part, which has pushed the Taliban to Kabul's gates.
Forget about the months or weeks that US experts said it would take the Taliban, who are backed by Pakistan, to take over the Afghan capital. According to sources on the ground, it may happen in a matter of days. One US expert stated that the Taliban are capturing provincial capitals and districts so rapidly that he hardly had time to update a chart that currently shows everything except Kabul and a 100-kilometre perimeter surrounding it under Taliban control.
What is the US response? Leave Afghanistan to its own fate, even as stories emerge of Talibanist diktats ranging from music bans to cell phone bans being enforced over seized regions where government soldiers are alleged to be surrendering in droves.
UN agencies are warning of a humanitarian disaster as the Taliban hunt down perceived enemies and attack women they see as chattel, reversing two decades of moderate progress and returning Afghanistan to the dark ages.
President Biden is being criticised for a hasty US withdrawal, despite the fact that a broad decision in this respect dates back to his predecessors, who, like him, thought that enough American blood had been lost to avenge 9/11 and eliminate the possibility of it happening again.
In the midst of the recrimination and regret in Washington, there is the predictable political one-upmanship, with allies of former President Donald Trump, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, attacking Biden for his lack of leadership.
While some experts blame successive US Presidents, intelligence agencies, and military commanders, others contend that if 20 years of US military presence couldn't prevent a catastrophic collapse within weeks of withdrawal, additional few months or years wouldn't have made a difference.
"Military/intelligence authorities in the United States are directly accountable for the worst intelligence failure since Tet in 1968. How could the Taliban plan, organize, position, and execute this huge, nationwide attack while the USMIL, CIA, DIA, NDS, ANDSF, and others were watching? "In the midst of parallels to the US defeat in Vietnam, Long War Journal's Bill Roggio wondered.
There isn't a mention of New Delhi, whose investments in Afghanistan, notably a $300 million investment in the Salma Dam, are dwindling with each Taliban advance. The impending collapse of the Ghani administration is regarded as leaving India vulnerable to Talibani attacks in Kashmir, much to the pleasure of the Pakistani elite, which is gloating over the US-India failure to support the Afghan government.