Afghanistan stuck between civil war, Taliban, corrupt officials and American inconsistency
The US is on a collision course with the Taliban by president Biden’s statement that the Americans will remain in Afghanistan until all their citizens have been evacuated. The question is whether the Taliban, who called the US arrogant on Thursday, will accept that.
Biden’s statement will not have fallen well with the Taliban, who at the same time have to worry that resistance to their takeover is growing. A day after demonstrations in Jalalabad, Ahmad Massoud, son of a major mujahedinleader, called for an uprising against the Taliban against the Russians. He asked the United States to provide rapid military support. On Thursday in Kabul and Asadabad, residents defied the Taliban fighters and protested against the movement, waving the Afghan flag.
Biden raised many eyebrows in Washington and Kabul with his statement that the evacuation mission may continue after August 31, when All American soldiers have to be withdrawn. The president said the 3,500 soldiers will remain at the airport until all American citizens are evacuated who want to leave. There are an estimated fifteen thousand Americans in the country, many of whom are of Afghan origin.
According to the peace agreement with the Taliban, the American soldiers had to leave the country as early as May, but Biden moved it to 31 August. ’ If there are still American citizens, we will stay until we get them all out of the country’, Biden told ABC News. ‘We will do everything in our power to get all Americans and our allies out. The Americans need to understand that we are going to try to get it done by August 31st.’
An anti-Taliban coalition seems to be forming, including Vice President @AmrullahSaleh2 and Ahmad Massoud, son of Ahmad Shah Massoud – they are in Panjsher, about three hours drive from Kabul #Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/EbuF1UXlNY
— Yalda Hakim (@BBCYaldaHakim) August 16, 2021
The US is planning to evacuate 5,000 to nine thousand civilians every day from Kabul. But the question is whether that is feasible. A big problem is that many Americans, foreigners and Afghans, have difficulty reaching the airport. By Thursday, the US and other countries, including the Netherlands, had flown away about eight thousand of their citizens and former Afghan employees.
Taliban fighters have set up checkpoints at the airport and acted harshly on civilians, mainly Afghans, who wanted to reach the airport on Wednesday. The American embassy in Kabul is asking Americans to stop coming to the airport on their own, unless they have received word that they will be evacuated.
The Taliban, for the time being tolerating the evacuation operation, have not yet responded to Biden’s statements. However, a longer presence of the US military in Kabul may frustrate their efforts to consolidate power over the country.
On Thursday, during the Independence Day celebration, they lashed out at the U.S. ‘With our jihadist resistance, we forced an arrogant world power, the US, to withdraw from our sacred territory’, the militant movement said in a statement.
— Panjshir_Province (@PanjshirProvin1) August 19, 2021
A longer stay of American soldiers can also encourage opponents of the Taliban to resist. Resistance leaders are now gathering in northern Panjshir, the only province not yet in the hands of the Taliban. Videos show soldiers from the defeated Afghan army entering the area with their armored cars and humvees.
The province was the stronghold of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the former guerrilla leader and leader of the Northern Alliance. In 2001, with American aid, this alliance expelled the Taliban from Kabul. Massoud was murdered just before 9/11. In addition to Massoud’s son, expelled vice president Amrullah Saleh also participated in the Resistance meeting. Saleh called on the Afghans to rise up against the Taliban early this week.
Massoud appealed to the Biden government on Thursday to support him militarily. ’ I am ready to follow in the footsteps of my father, with mujaheden fighters who are ready to tackle the Taliban again’, Massoud said in an op-ed in the Washington Post. According to him, elite units of the army would migrate to Panjshir to support the resistance.
‘Know that millions of Afghans share your values’, Massoud told the US. ‘We have fought for so long for an open society, where girls can become doctors, our press can freely report, our young people can dance and listen to music or attend football matches in the stadiums once used by the Taliban for public executions – and perhaps again soon.’