13 August 2021 — Moon of Alabama
This was fast. The Taliban have as of now 18 of 34 provinc[ial] capitals under the[ir] control.
- August 6 – Zaranji (Nimruz)
- August 7 – Sheberghan (Jowzjan)
- August 8 – Kunduz (Kunduz)
- August 8 – Sar-e Pol (Sar-e Pol)
- August 8 – Talquan (Takhar)
- August 9 – Aybak (Samangan)
- August 10 – Farah (Farah)
- August 10 – Pul-i Khumri (Baghlan)
- August 11 – Faizabad (Badakhshan)
- August 12 – Ghazni (Ghazni)
- August 12 – Kandahar (Kandahar)
- August 12 – Herat (Herat)
- August 12 – Qala-e-Naw (Badghis)
- August 13 – Lashkar Gah (Helmand)
- August 13 – Tirin kot (Uruzgan)
- August 13 – Chaghcharan (Ghor)
- August 13 – Pul-e Alim (Logar)
- August 13 – Qalat (Zabul)
Only three of the bigger cities, Kabul, Jalalabad and Mazar-i-Sharif, are not yet in Taliban hands.
Jalalabad and the eastern provinces near the border to Pakistan are Taliban heartland. They will fall automatically. Mazar-i-Sharif, home of the brutal warlord ‘General’ Dostum, may decide to fight to the end. The fate of Kabul is still open.
The other still yellow provinces will likely change hands with little or no fighting.
Paktﻯawal @Paktyaw4l – 9:06 UTC · Aug 13, 2021
My province has just announced they are surrendering to the Taliban without a fight, Gardez city will be spared from fighting. Scholars and tribal elders are telling government forces that the government is no more, no more fighting.
The U.S. is sending 3,000 soldiers to Kabul to secure the evacuation of its embassy. 650 soldiers are already there. A reserve of 5,000 is kept on bases near the Persian Gulf. Britain will send 600 soldiers. The U.S. will have to evacuate at least 4,000 ’embassy’ staff of which 1,400 are ‘diplomats’.
The AP summarizes the situation:
The onslaught represents a stunning collapse of Afghan forces after the United States spent nearly two decades and $830 billion trying to establish a functioning state after toppling the Taliban in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The advancing Taliban ride on American-made Humvees and carry M-16s pilfered from Afghan forces.
Afghan security forces and the government have not responded to repeated questions from journalists, instead issuing video communiques that downplay the Taliban advance.
Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the Afghan army has rotted from within due to corruption and mismanagement, leaving troops in the field poorly equipped and with little motivation to fight. The Taliban, meanwhile, have spent a decade taking control of large swaths of the countryside, positioning themselves to rapidly seize key infrastructure and urban areas once President Joe Biden announced the U.S. withdrawal.
The difficulty of moving troops out to the provinces means the government is likely to focus all its efforts on defending the capital.
There is fear of a battle for Kabul but I find it unlikely that the Afghan army will take a stand. Who or what are the Afghan soldiers supposed to fight for? Its units are likely to negotiate a peaceful change of command as they have done elsewhere. They will then be told to go home. There may be some bodyguards of this or that warlord or politician who will try to protect their compounds. If they fight they will have little chance to survive.
President Ashraf Ghani and other politicians will soon retreat to their villas in Dubai. In a week or two the whole of Afghanistan may well be, for the first time ever, under total control of the Islamic Emirate.
Our politicians have lied to us over ‘bringing democracy’ to Afghanistan. Corruption, from Washington DC through Kabul down into the smallest army units in Afghanistan, had long destroyed all hope for better results.
The incompetent military leaders have disregarded their duty when they declared again and again that they have turned the corner of the fight. The intelligence people have never understood Afghanistan. How else could they have misjudged the speed of the current outcome?
All this was well known to anyone who read the reports by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. But lots of weapons were sold and lots of contractors made abstruse profits for projects that were never done. The war was a self licking ice cream cone.
It is good that this scam is now finally ending. The Afghan people will be mostly happy about it. Corruption will end. No more bribes will have to be paid.
The country will continue to be poor but much safer.