‘Trust was gone’: Former Afghan official recounts his government’s collapse

“Afghanistan’s government lost trust in the United States because of the Trump administration’s negotiations with the Taliban and the Biden administration’s insistence on withdrawing its forces, a former Afghan official said Sunday in describing his government’s collapse earlier this year.”

“Mohib told Brennan the decision was made to leave when it became clear that the military had largely melted away and the police had not shown up for work. “We had to make a decision that was right for Afghanistan,” Mohib said.
For his part, Mohib said the Afghan government expected more from the United States, but that his country was betrayed by the U.S. government negotiating with the Taliban independently.

“What happened was the rug was pulled under the Afghans’ feet,” he said, adding: “The decision to talk directly and engage the Taliban and make a deal with the Taliban that didn’t include the Afghan government was protested.””

The Taliban are helping remaining US citizens evacuate from Kabul because ‘they don’t want Americans in their country anyway,’ activist says

“”They want Americans out,” she said, referring to the Taliban. “So when it comes to us moving Americans out of the country, they’re happy to assist. They don’t want Americans in their country anyway.””

“Wilson said “there have been no problems at all” with Project Dynamo’s passengers.
“The Taliban have not been adversarial with us or threatening with us,” she said. “There were no problems with hitting and beating, the things that we saw in the early days when the military was still there.”

“The Taliban knew we were coming, they knew it was Americans, and they gave us safe passage.”

Last week Project Dynamo successfully evacuated more than 100 US citizens, green card holders, and Special Immigrant Visa holders from Kabul to Chicago.

But the journey took longer than expected after the Department of Homeland Security initially barred the plane from entering the US, citing a lengthy screening process and a measles outbreak as causes for concern.

The group, which included 59 children, was left stranded at Abu Dhabi airport for more than 24 hours with little food and having to sleep on floors.”

In the Taliban’s Birthplace, White Flags, Jailbreaks and Fears of Revenge

“In the final days before the Taliban finally managed to force their way into the central part of the city, many of Kandahar’s roadsides, rickshaws and storefronts were adorned with images of a famously brutal provincial police commander who had been assassinated three years before by the group.

The Taliban had loathed him like few others.

During his lifetime, Abdul Raziq Achakzai was accused by both international human rights organizations and Afghan-led ones of abuses including torture and extrajudicial killings. But during my visit of over a week between late July and early August, I heard significant nostalgia for both him and his harsh but allegedly effective ways.

“If Raziq had been here, the Taliban would not have dared to get this close to Kandahar” was a common refrain I heard from city inhabitants ranging from drivers to an adviser to the governor.”

“Unlike in Kabul or some other areas that were handed over after “negotiations” with local officials, people in Kandahar fought hard against the Taliban. A highly trained intelligence unit involved in the fighting known as “03” with men from other areas of the country also put up a major fight. But without U.S. air support, the city fell.”

Who are the Taliban now?

““At its core — its ideology, the way it sees Islam, the way that it sees the imposition of religious law on society — [the Taliban] has not fundamentally changed as a movement,” said Vali R. Nasr, the Majid Khadduri professor of Middle East studies and international affairs at Johns Hopkins University.

In many ways, the Taliban remain opaque, and there are likely divides between their leadership and the soldiers on the battlefield. That makes it hard to predict exactly what Afghanistan’s future might look like under Taliban rule.”

Will the Taliban roll back two decades of public health progress in Afghanistan?

“relatively little attention has been paid to what the Taliban victory will mean for one of the nation’s biggest accomplishments: the sharp decline in child and maternal mortality over the past two decades.

A study in The Lancet Global Health found that between 2003 and 2015, child mortality in Afghanistan fell by 29 percent. While maternal mortality is difficult to estimate, one data set found that deaths in childbirth fell from 1,140 per 100,000 in 2005 to 638 per 100,000 in 2017, or nearly in half.

This progress was not necessarily all generated by the US-led occupation, with aid from international organizations and Afghan-led initiatives contributing heavily; and these estimates rely on household surveys that are difficult to conduct well, especially in poor, war-torn countries with large nomadic populations, meaning they are likely off to some degree.”

“The best-case scenario would be a continued emphasis on the health of women and children, expansion of the developing public health sector — including nutrition, water, sanitation, and housing — and attention to the emerging problem with chronic or noncommunicable diseases.

The health workforce needs continuing support. Things can go bad if restriction of women, both as a health focus and in the workforce, occurs and ideology starts getting in the way of health programming. The health of Afghanistan cannot move forward without continuing external support, and this is likely to be required for some years to come, regardless of who is the government. A plunge back into war and instability is the very worst case imaginable for the health of the country”

‘This Is Actually Happening’

“The latest domino to fall to the Taliban was the northern commercial hub of Mazar-e-Sharif. It was becoming clear that Kabul was next. Seasoned military officers expressed disbelief that the Afghan forces appeared ready to give up their capital city without a fight.

“Email was blowing up left and right [with people saying] ‘Wow, this is actually happening right now,’” a defense official said. “This thing just fell apart over the weekend.”

Pentagon officials were realizing far too late that the Taliban had waged an effective influence campaign in addition to the physical one, taking advantage of tribal dynamics to build ties with village elders and others who played key roles in the group’s mostly bloodless march across the country.

At the same time, the U.S. military had fewer than 2,500 troops left — not enough to understand just how fast the Afghan national army’s morale and cohesion was crumbling.”

“Biden’s cabinet members and their deputies had held some three-dozen “scenario planning” meetings following the president’s April announcement that U.S. troops would be out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11.

They covered everything from how to secure the U.S. Embassy and handle Afghan refugees to how to best position the U.S. military in the region in case things spun out of control. Many more sessions were held at the Pentagon, U.S. Central Command in Tampa, the State Department, and other agencies.

But it still wasn’t enough to prepare for the utter collapse, in a matter of days, of America’s two-decade, $2 trillion effort designed to prop up the Afghan government. Biden had insisted the Afghan military would fight; it largely hadn’t. Blinken had scoffed at the notion that Kabul would fall over a weekend; and yet it did. The “Saigon moment” Biden feared had arrived.”

Be Real. Afghanistan Victory Would Have Taken Two Centuries. VIDEO SOURCES

Costs of the Afghanistan war, in lives and dollars Ellen Knickmeyer. 8 14 2021. AP News. https://apnews.com/article/middle-east-business-afghanistan-43d8f53b35e80ec18c130cd683e1a38f Exploring the Cost of the War in Afghanistan Neal Freyman. 8 15 2021. Morning Brew. https://www.morningbrew.com/daily/stories/2021/08/16/exploring-cost-war-afghanistan Vietnam War U.S. Military Fatal Casualty Statistics National Archives.