At this point, it’s a 50-50 proposition whether the Taliban will completely overrun Afghanistan before the U.S. retreat is complete.
Joe Biden’s original target date for withdrawal — September 11 of this year — is no longer realistic. The Taliban took another provincial capital on Sunday — the city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan — and are threatening several others.
Kunduz, a city of 375,000, is the most significant prize yet captured by the Taliban. “All security forces fled to the airport, and the situation is critical,” Sayed Jawad Hussaini, the deputy police chief of a district in Kunduz city told the New York Times. The Afghan forces say they’ll try to retake the city after nightfall.
Since the Taliban’s nationwide offensive began in May, the commandos have served as the nation’s firefighters, sent to hot spots with hopes of turning the tide against the insurgent group.
In reality, what were once considered elite forces have transformed into foot soldiers who are some of the only troops capable of defending territory under attack by the Taliban.
In order to slow the Taliban’s advance — and give the Afghan government time to flee — U.S. warplanes struck Taliban targets in Helmand Province, including Kandahar, Herat, and Lashkar Gah.
The US has sent B-52 bombers and Spectre gunships to Afghanistan in a bid to stop Taliban insurgents who are marching towards three key cities.
The B-52s are flying into Afghanistan from an airbase in Qatar, hitting targets around Kandahar, Herat, and Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, sources told The Times.
The move comes amid an increasingly dire situation in Afghanistan, as the Taliban continues to seize territory across the country as US-led forces withdraw.
The Pentagon estimates that the group now controls half of Afghanistan’s 419 district centers.
As the Afghan army melts away, there is little that air power can realistically accomplish to keep the Taliban at bay. That’s why the U.S. air force is basically fighting a rearguard action to cover the escape of the Afghan army and government leadership.
The Afghan air force is still reliant on US-supplied aircraft, which are now running out of spares and trained technicians after the departure of US contractors, The Times reported.
The paper said that at least seven Afghan pilots had been killed after being targeted by the Taliban, while others are reportedly exhausted after relentless missions.
Although Joe Biden has set a deadline for withdrawal of August 31, American defense sources told The Times that there was every intention to continue with the airstrikes after that date.
The Taliban have won a pyrrhic victory. Afghanistan is a nation prostrate from half a century of war. It’s never really been a “nation” in any sense of the word, rather a collection of tribes and ethnicities that the Great Powers cobbled together in the 19th century. It has no national identity. There is little in the way of indigenous capability to exploit its natural resources — which may amount to about $1 trillion in rare earth minerals. The people are uneducated, superstitious, and hostile to strangers.
But it was a base for Muslim extremists to launch attacks on the west. And after we’re gone, it will once again become a center of anti-western hate and violent jihad. The Taliban will see to that.