State Dept. Cable Warned Administration That Afghan Military Wouldn’t Be Able To Stop Taliban’s Advance
[guest post by Dana]
An internal State Department memo last month warned top agency officials of the potential collapse of Kabul soon after the U.S.’s Aug. 31 troop withdrawal deadline in Afghanistan, according to a U.S. official and a person familiar with the document.
The classified cable represents the clearest evidence yet that the administration had been warned by its own officials on the ground that the Taliban’s advance was imminent and Afghanistan’s military may be unable to stop it.
The cable, sent via the State Department’s confidential dissent channel, warned of rapid territorial gains by the Taliban and the subsequent collapse of Afghan security forces, and offered recommendations on ways to mitigate the crisis and speed up an evacuation, the two people said.
The cable, dated July 13, also called for the State Department to use tougher language in describing the atrocities being committed by the Taliban, one of the people said.
Even in early mid-July, the administration had a very good idea of what was going to happen, and yet they were unprepared. White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich reports that the White House takes issue with the cable’s warning date:
the Biden administration is disputing the notion this confidential cable warned of the events we saw play out —
A source notes, the cable says Kabul could fall “shortly AFTER the US leaves on 8/31” – not a warning it could happen in early August
Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer echoes on CNN -"the cable reflects what we said all along, which is that nobody had this right in predicting the government and army of Afghanistan would fall in days" — adds it calls for SIV evacs by 8/1, admin began in July https://t.co/6hKYRZ0G4r
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) August 19, 2021
On a side note, it’s particularly galling that the State Dept. had to be asked to use tougher language with regard to the atrocities being committed by the Taliban. Hopefully, no one believes the Taliban’s claim that:
…there will be no revenge attacks on those who worked for the government or its security services, and that “life, property and honor” will be respected. They are urging Afghans to remain in the country and have pledged to create a “secure environment” for businesses, embassies, and foreign and local charities.
Because anyone who does is a fool:
The Taliban have stepped up their search for people who worked for Nato forces or the previous Afghan government, a UN document has warned.
It said the militants have been going door-to-door to find targets and threatening their family members.
The hardline Islamist group has tried to reassure Afghans since seizing power, promising there would be “no revenge”.
But there are fears the Taliban have changed little since the brutal 1990s.
The warning the group were targeting “collaborators” came in a confidential document by the RHIPTO Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, which provides intelligence to the UN.
“There are a high number of individuals that are currently being targeted by the Taliban and the threat is crystal clear,” Christian Nellemann, who heads the group behind the report, told the BBC.
“It is in writing that, unless they give themselves in, the Taliban will arrest and prosecute, interrogate and punish family members on behalf of those individuals.”
He warned that anyone on the Taliban’s blacklist was in severe danger, and that there could be mass executions.
The Taliban is what it has always been:
Reports of violence and repression by Taliban militants are surfacing around Afghanistan, despite pledges by the group’s representatives that their leadership would be conciliatory and peaceful.
At least 12 people have been killed in and around Kabul airport alone since Sunday, when the Taliban entered the Afghan capital, NATO and Taliban officials said Thursday, as cited by Reuters. The deaths may have been caused by gunfire or stampede.
Beatings by Taliban fighters left some adults and at least one child injured and bleeding, according to reporting and photographs from NBC News and the Los Angeles Times. The Taliban deny their members’ involvement in the violence.
And surely, the Afghan people understand all too well the imminent threat of violence and even death they face now that the Taliban are in control. Because mothers don’t toss their babies over razor-wire fencing on the chance that British soldiers might care for them unless they are driven by an all-consuming fear of the terror that is to come.
President Biden is scheduled to address the nation at 1:00 pm tomorrow regarding the evacuation of Americans out of Afghanistan, and SIV applicants.