As the United States military cuts and runs in Afghanistan, the Taliban is not being very gentle about taking over.
In recent weeks, Taliban propaganda has shown videos of Afghan soldiers laying down their arms and surrendering by the thousands. The terrorists claim to have “liberated” 200 districts across the north and west of Afghanistan. In a statement issued Monday, the Taliban said “thousands of soldiers” had “defected and embraced the open arms of the Islamic Emirate.”
Apparently, not all of the soldiers were being hugged back by the Taliban.
The Taliban posted a video three days after the fighting in Dawlat Abad, showing the seizure of military trucks and weapons. The video claimed that “the Washington guards, a CIA specially trained special commando who had been pursuing the Taliban in Dawlat Abad, Faryab, were captured alive by the Taliban, disarmed and handcuffed.”
The Taliban told CNN the videos showing the commandos being shot were fake and government propaganda to encourage people not to surrender. A Taliban spokesman said they were still holding 24 commandos who had been captured in Faryab province but provided no evidence.
“This deeply disturbing footage is horrific and gives insight into the increasingly desperate situation enveloping in Afghanistan. What we are witnessing is the cold-blooded murder of surrendering soldiers — a war crime,” Samira Hamidi, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner said on Monday.
About the only forces resisting the Taliban in Afghanistan are drug warlords who got fabulously wealthy during the American presence.
With great powers jostling to secure their strategic interests in Afghanistan, the commanders are competing for political prominence, said Avinash Paliwal of the Soas South Asia Institute at the University of London.
“Their political value has risen for outside powers as the US leaves,” said Paliwal. “Now, the powers have to deal with them [the warlords] directly.”
The “powers” include China, Turkey, India, Russia, and Pakistan — all of whom are looking to gain an advantage on the ground as the U.S. leaves and the Afghan government melts away.
The growing chorus for the mobilisation and the resurrection of militia groups has been stoked by warlords including Ahmad Massoud, the son of an influential commander killed by al-Qaeda, and Atta Mohammad Noor, a former governor and northern commander.
With demoralised Afghan security forces suffering repeated defeats on the battlefield, Kabul has launched a “National Mobilisation” drive to arm local volunteers.
The warlords will be grateful for that assist from the disappearing government. Those “militias” will be bought and paid for by individual warlords and with all the equipment being left behind by the U.S., you can bet they’ll be well-armed.
Who they would fight might be a different story. Kate Clark from the Afghanistan Analysts Network said it’s uncertain how much of a fight the warlords could put up — even with their own enhanced militias. “We don’t know the capacity for actual popular mobilization,” she said. “There is so much that is up in the air at the moment.”
The warlords may simply take the opportunity to make security deals with local Taliban to keep the illegal drug trade going. That’s the way it was before the 2001 U.S. invasion and that’s the way it’s likely to be when the last American leaves.