News & Politics

Going in for the Kill: Taliban Takes a Provincial Afghan Capital for the First Time

(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

The final Taliban offensive that began in late May has been making significant headway against Afghan government forces in recent weeks. Now it appears that whatever restraint the terrorists were showing in attacking large urban areas has disappeared.

Taliban propagandists had been claiming for weeks that they were sparing Afghanistan’s urban areas from large-scale conflict to give peace negotiations a chance of being concluded. But with the Afghan army deserting in droves and the government wallowing in defeatism, the opportunity for a quick total victory is just too good to pass up.

Washington Post:

Taliban fighters seized control of the capital of Nimruz province in southwestern Afghanistan on Friday, the first provincial capital to be overrun by the militants since the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from the country.

Rohullah Gul Khairzad, the province’s deputy governor, said the city “has fallen” to the Taliban, but he refused to release further details.

Unconfirmed videos circulating on social media show residents looting shops in a central market in Zaranj, the provincial capital. One Afghan security official said clashes in the city are continuing. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss ongoing operations with the media.

And lest anyone in the Afghan government thought they were safe, the Taliban gave officials some brutal hints of what was to come.

The Taliban has also escalated attacks on senior government officials, including the Friday assassination of Dawa Khan Menapal, who oversaw operations for local and foreign media. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the group carried out the slaying in Kabul.

The Taliban also claimed responsibility for a Wednesday suicide bombing that targeted the home of acting defense minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi in Kabul. Eight civilians were killed and 20 were wounded, but Mohammadi was not present at his guesthouse at the time of the attack.

The Biden administration’s response to this is surreal. While the Afghan army melts away and resistance to the Taliban disappears, the Biden administration is sitting at a negotiating table with the Taliban claiming that the terrorists want a peaceful transition of power.

CNN:

The Biden administration has continued to back negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban, insisting the latter is still invested in the political process and political success is still possible, even as the international community has accused the Taliban of atrocities that may amount to war crimes.

However, experts and former diplomats say that the Taliban want full control of Afghanistan and will continue to seek leverage for that goal on the battlefield. The top US envoy himself has acknowledged that the Taliban feel “emboldened” by their recent military gains in the country.

The peace train left the station long ago. Can the Biden administration really be that naive and stupid to believe that the Taliban cares what the U.S. thinks? The Taliban is “invested” in the political process only as long it suits their interests. They will still be negotiating with the U.S. the day they raise their flag above the presidential palace in Kabul and display the heads of the U.S.-backed Afghan government on the gates of the U.S. embassy.