Taliban fighters entered Kabul on Sunday and sought the surrender of the central government, signaling the completion of President Joe Biden‘s surrender of Afghanistan.
The floundering Afghanastain government hoped for an interim administration, but increasingly had few moves to make civilians after Joe Biden ordered his tuck tail and run policy
Fearing that the Taliban could bring back the sort of retrograde governance that all but eliminated women’s rights Afghans rushed to leave the country, lining up at cash machines to withdraw their life savings.
Helicopters buzzed overhead, some apparently evacuating staffers at the U.S. Embassy, something that Joe Biden recently announced ‘would never happen’
Several other Western missions were also preparing to get staff out of the war-torn nation.
The new developments come after the Taliban seized almost all of Afghanistan in about a week, even after the U.S. and NATO spent billions of dollars over two decades to bolster Afghan security forces. Days earlier, an American military review found it would be roughly a month before the capital would come under insurgent pressure.
Instead, the Taliban swiftly thwarted Afghan security forces fleeing from much of the country, even though they had some air support from the U.S. military.
On Sunday, the insurgents entered the outskirts of Kabul but didn’t enter the city’s downtown. Intermittent gunfire could be heard but otherwise the streets were quiet.
Workers fled government offices, and smoke rose over the city, as embassy staff set fire to important documents.
The insurgents are “awaiting a peaceful transfer of Kabul city,” according to Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen. To Qatar’s Al-Jazeera English satellite news channel, he didn’t offer specifics on any possible negotiations between the Taliban and the government.
After being pressed on what kind of agreement the Taliban wanted, Shaheen conceded that his forces were seeking that the central government unconditionally surrender.
Taliban negotiators went to the presidential palace Sunday to discuss the transfer, according to an Afghan official who spoke on condition of anonymity. It’s unclear when that potential transfer could take place.
The negotiators on the government side included former President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan National Reconciliation Council, an official said. Abdullah has long been a vocal critic of President Ashraf Ghani, who long refused giving up power to get a deal with the Taliban.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the closed-doors negotiations, characterized them as “tense.”
Acting Defense Minister Bismillah Khan sought to reassure the public that Kabul would remain “secure.” The insurgents also attempted to calm residents of the capital, saying their fighters wouldn’t enter people’s homes or interfere with businesses. They also said they’d offer an “amnesty” to those who worked with the Afghan government or foreign forces.
“No one’s life, property and dignity will be harmed and the lives of the citizens of Kabul will not be at risk,” the insurgents said in a statement. But they also warned no one to go into the area surrounding the capital.
Despite the pledges, panic set in as many rushed to leave the country through the Kabul airport, the last route out of the country as the Taliban now hold every border crossing. Rapid shuttle flights of Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters near the U.S. Embassy began a few hours later after the militants seized the nearby city of Jalalabad — which had been the last major city besides the capital not in Taliban hands. Diplomatic armored SUVs left the area around the post.
Biden’s Disastrous Afghan Surrender
The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to questions about the movements. But wisps of smoke could be seen near the embassy’s roof as diplomats urgently destroyed sensitive documents, according to two American military officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. The smoke grew heavier over time in the area, home to other nation’s embassies as well.
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, which typically carry armed troops, later landed near the U.S. Embassy. The U.S. in recent days opted to send in thousands of troops to help evacuate some personnel from its embassy.
At Kabul International Airport, Afghan forces abandoned the field to Western militaries, according to a pilot who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Ghani, who spoke to the nation Saturday for the first time since the offensive began, appeared increasingly isolated. Warlords he negotiated with just days earlier have surrendered to the Taliban or fled, leaving Ghani without a military option. Ongoing negotiations in Qatar, the site of a Taliban office, also have failed to stop the insurgents’ advance.
Earlier in the day, militants posted photos online showing them in the governor’s office in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province.
Abrarullah Murad, a lawmaker from the province, told The Associated Press that the insurgents seized the city after elders negotiated the fall of the government there. Murad said there was no fighting as the city surrendered.
The fighters also took Maidan Shar, the capital of Maidan Wardak, on Sunday, said Afghan lawmaker Hamida Akbari and the Taliban . Another provincial capital in Khost also fell to the insurgents, said a provincial council member who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. The capitals of Kapisa and Parwan provinces also fell, Afghan officials said.
The militants also took the land border at Torkham, the last not in their control, on Sunday. Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told local broadcaster Geo TV that Pakistan halted cross-border traffic there after the militants seized it.
Later, Afghan forces at Bagram air base, home to a prison housing 5,000 inmates, surrendered to the Taliban, according to Bagram district chief Darwaish Raufi. The prison at the former U.S. base held both Taliban and Islamic State group fighters.
With Post wires