[guest post by Dana]
A dire situation in Afghanistan. It’s reportedly worse than what the administration has told us:
Three major cities in western and southern Afghanistan were confirmed on Friday to have fallen to the Taliban, as the insurgents’ race to take control of the country accelerated.
The Taliban seized Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, on Friday morning after a weekslong battle that left parts of the city in ruins, hospitals filled with the wounded and dying, and residents asking what would come next under their new rulers. Hours earlier, the insurgents had captured Herat, a cultural hub in the west, and Kandahar, the country’s second-largest city, where the Taliban first proclaimed their so-called emirate in the 1990s.
The speed of the cities’ collapse, combined with American officials’ announcement Thursday that they would evacuate most of the United States Embassy, has deepened the sense of panic across the country as thousands try to flee from the Taliban advance.
Only three major Afghan cities — the capital, Kabul, Jalalabad and Mazar-i-Sharif — remain under government control, and one is under siege by the Taliban. With the collapse of both Lashkar Gah and Kandahar, the Taliban now effectively control southern Afghanistan, a powerful symbol of their resurgence, just weeks before the United States is set to completely withdraw from the country.
Because of the urgency of the situation, the US is moving troops immediately to help with evacuation of Americans:
As the Taliban capture provincial capitals with alarming speed, the Pentagon is moving 3,000 Marines and soldiers to Afghanistan and another 4,000 troops to the region to evacuate most of the American Embassy and U.S. citizens in Kabul.
Unfortunately, because Afghan security forces haven’t risen to the occasion at the level needed, it is estimated that Kabul could fall in 30 days.
Despite the administration saying that our high level of intelligence will help deter any future terrorist plots against the US, others aren’t so so sure :
Senior Afghan intelligence officials told CNN that al Qaeda could be ready to attack the West by the end of 2022, as the group’s presence in Afghanistan is thriving with support from the Taliban.
And there are the inevitable humanitarian concerns as well:
“No one should pretend they’re surprised the Taliban is winning now that we abandoned our Afghan partners,” Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said in a statement. “No one should pretend to be surprised when girls and women are brutalized. And no one should pretend to be surprised when the Taliban yet again provides safe harbor to terrorists plotting international attacks.”
President Biden, meanwhile, remains resolute about his decision to withdraw US troops:
“I do not regret my decision,” Biden told reporters Tuesday, after pointing out that the U.S. has spent more than a trillion dollars and lost thousands of its own troops to train and equip Afghanistan’s military.
“Afghan leaders have to come together,” he said. “They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation.”