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World Afghan forces fold as rapid Taliban advances test will of government troops

10:00  11 october  2021
10:00  11 october  2021 Source:   msn.com

U.S. sought to guide isolated Afghan president through U.S. withdrawal

  U.S. sought to guide isolated Afghan president through U.S. withdrawal It was clear that the Taliban was coming back into power in one form or another.While in the U.S. to meet with President Biden, and just seven weeks before Kabul fell to Taliban forces, Ghani also met with CIA Director William Burns to discuss the future of his embattled government and country. Two sources familiar with the June 24 meeting confirmed that the men met at the agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to discuss the upcoming transition that would need to happen as the U.S. withdrew its troops.

WE’VE SEEN THIS MOVIE BEFORE: The rapid territorial gains of the Taliban in Afghanistan has eerie echoes of the 2014-2015 ISIS takeover of much of Iraq. Then, as now, a vastly smaller, ideologically driven force defeated a numerically superior and better equipped U.S.-trained Army by breaking the will of their enemy.

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As of this morning, at least four provincial capitals have fallen to the Taliban over the past four days, and the key northern city of Kunduz appears to be the fifth. The string of Taliban victories began Friday in the far western Nimroz province, where Afghan forces defending the capital of Zaranj reportedly took off their uniforms and fled across the border into Iran.

Journalist Fatema Hosseini recounts escaping Kabul as Taliban closed in: 5 Things podcast

  Journalist Fatema Hosseini recounts escaping Kabul as Taliban closed in: 5 Things podcast When the Taliban took Kabul, the life Fatema Hosseini knew was no more. As a female reporter who’d worked for USA TODAY, she knew she'd have to escape.But getting out seemed impossible. There was chaos at the Kabul airport.

Reports said that, much like ISIS did in Iraq, the Taliban tortured and executed captured troops to break the morale of others.

The other provincial capitals now fully under Taliban control are Sar-e Pul, Shibirghan, and Taleqan, according to the Associated Press.

'EYES GOUGED': TALIBAN SEIZE TRADING CENTER IN MILESTONE CONQUEST OF PROVINCIAL CAPITAL

It was disturbingly reminiscent of the 2014 fall of Mosul in Iraq, when nearly 60,000 Iraqi troops, spooked by the brutal tactics of ISIS, melted away in the face of an assault by a mere 1,500 fighters. When Ramadi fell the following year, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter told CNN that Iraqi defenders "showed no will to fight.”

"They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight,” Carter said in March of 2015. “We can give them training, we can give them equipment — we obviously can't give them the will to fight.”

Why is the Taliban on such a winning streak, and can the tide be turned?

  Why is the Taliban on such a winning streak, and can the tide be turned? A breathtaking run of battlefield success has put the Taliban in the ascendant and Afghan security forces on the back foot. Can they turn it around?Since Friday, the Taliban has overrun bastions of government control, snatching more than a quarter of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals on its way to controlling an estimated 65% of the country. On Wednesday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani raced to the country’s north to rally a defense of besieged Mazar-i-Sharif, the country’s fourth-largest city.

SPREAD TOO THIN: While the U.S.-trained and equipped Afghan military also vastly outnumbers the Taliban, without American logistical and air support, the government lacks the ability to resupply and reinforce its far-flung forces far from the capital of Kabul.

“They're being very smart about this,” says Ryan Crocker, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan in the Bush and Obama administrations. “They are not launching major strikes into Kabul. They are doing what they're doing in part to create a climate of fear and panic. And they are succeeding wonderfully at this,” Cocker said on ABC.

Speaking on the Sunday show This Week, Crocker said the most likely outcome at this point is “a prolonged civil war,” rather than “a swift Taliban takeover of the entire country.”

A TEST OF WILL AND LEADERSHIP: The U.S. can’t care more than the Afghans do about the future of their country, said Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, a member of the Armed Services Committee, on MSNBC Saturday.

Taliban back brutal rule as they strike for power

  Taliban back brutal rule as they strike for power Afghanistan's ex-rulers still back brutal punishments as they continue a deadly advance towards power.The "ghanimat" or spoils of war they're showing off include a Humvee, two pick-up vans and a host of powerful machine guns. Ainuddin, a stony-faced former madrassa (religious school) student who's now a local military commander, stands at the centre of a heavily-armed crowd.

“The United States has been in Afghanistan for 20 years. We've trained more than 300,000 current members of the Afghan National Security Force. The number of Taliban fighters is 50,000 to 60,000,” Kaine said. “If 300,000-plus can't defeat 50,000 or 60,000, it's not because 2,500 U.S. troops are gone ... at the end of the day, the United States can't be the guarantor of Afghan civil society, that has to be the Afghans' job.”

At a Pentagon briefing July 21, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley insisted “the end game is yet written” in Afghanistan, and that the most important factors would be “the will and leadership of the Afghan people.”

US: TALIBAN ATTACKS 'CONTRADICT ITS CLAIM TO SUPPORT' PEACE PROCESS

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U.S. Warns Taliban That Taking Afghanistan by Force Will Make Them Global Pariahs

  U.S. Warns Taliban That Taking Afghanistan by Force Will Make Them Global Pariahs "Many families have no option but to flee in search of a safer place. This must stop," said the International Committee of the Red Cross's head of delegation in Afghanistan.Khalilzad traveled to Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban holds a political office, to tell the group that there is no point in pursuing overall control of Afghanistan through a military takeover. He hopes this will discourage the Taliban from its ongoing fighting and persuade them to return to peace talks with the Afghan government as NATO forces finish withdrawing from the country.

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HAPPENING TODAY: EVACUATIONS UNDERWAY: With the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorating by the hour, and with the possibility the Taliban could soon threaten the international airport in Kabul, the U.S. Embassy issued an urgent warning to Americans to get out of the country as soon as possible and not to depend on the U.S. government to provide transportation.

“Given the security conditions and reduced staffing, the embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited even within Kabul,” the statement said. “The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately using available commercial flight options.”

For now, the embassy remains open with only essential personnel, guarded by some 600 U.S. troops. But all other Americans are being told to “consider leaving Afghanistan via the earliest available commercial transportation,” and to “develop a plan of action that does not rely on U.S. government assistance.”

STATE DEPARTMENT URGES US CITIZENS IN AFGHANISTAN TO LEAVE 'IMMEDIATELY'

Stunning speed of Taliban victories ramps up the pressure on Kabul — and Washington

  Stunning speed of Taliban victories ramps up the pressure on Kabul — and Washington Taliban fighters have seized several provincial capitals in recent days, marking a 'deadlier and more destructive phase' of the war in Afghanistan.Monday saw the Taliban advance on Gardez, the capital of Paktia province in Afghanistan’s east. Officials also confirmed to local media outlets that the radical Islamic group had taken Aybak, the capital of northern Samangan province, as fighters pressed ahead with a countrywide offensive that has seen a crushing rout of Afghan government forces in many places.

‘WE ARE IN A MOMENT OF CRISIS’: “What needs to be done right now is to ramp up the evacuation, get more flights in faster. We are in a moment of crisis,” said former Ambassador Ryan Crocker on ABC. “The problem is the Taliban now control the narrative. They can certainly shut down Kabul airport if they choose.”

“The ability to get our folks out, and others who have served us at risk of their lives out, it really now depends on whether the Taliban want to let them go,” Cocker said. “The Taliban can wait. They've got the options. They've got the leverage and the capability. We've given all that away.”

‘THEY WILL KILL EVERYBODY’: Appearing with Cocker on ABC was Janis Shinwari, a former Afghan interpreter and co-founder of the nonprofit organization No One Left Behind, which is working to get Afghans who helped Americans out of Afghanistan before they face retribution from the Taliban.

“We have to ask President Biden to start more flights. And we cannot wait ... his process has been too slow,” Shinwari said. “I have been in contact with a lot of people in Afghanistan that they're waiting for their visa. ... We should expedite this program. We should have more planes to evacuate these people as soon as possible.”

“We have to evacuate those people before it's too late,” he pleaded. “If we do not ... the Taliban will kill everybody. And they will torture them in front of their family and kill them ... they will not only kill the interpreters, but they will kill their immediate families who are still in Afghanistan,” he said. “They will kill all these people, including the news reporters. Everybody who was working for the Afghan government or U.S. government, they're not safe. They will kill everybody.”

Isolating Afghanistan Could Lead to World Security Threat, Counterterrorism Official Warns

  Isolating Afghanistan Could Lead to World Security Threat, Counterterrorism Official Warns Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani pointed to what happened when Al-Qaeda used Afghanistan as a base to plot the September 11 terror attacks on the U.S. as to why isolation is bad policy.Qatar's policies and perception have been closely observed since the U.S. withdrawal because the oil-rich nation has played a large role in war-torn Afghanistan."If we are going to disengage and not to engage with them [the Taliban], I think again we are committing the same mistake that we did in 1989...when we abandoned Afghanistan, the Afghan people," al-Qahtani said.

‘AN INDELIBLE STAIN’ ON BIDEN’S PRESIDENCY: Unlike in Iraq, where the U.S. sent troops back to enable local forces to reverse ISIS gains and eventually crush the terrorist caliphate, Crocker sees little chance President Joe Biden will change course and rescue the faltering Afghan government.

“President Biden has made that clear. We're going out and are staying out,” said Crocker, who argues that total withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghan, while a top priority of former President Donald Trump, will now be part of Biden’s legacy.

Biden, he says, has “now taken complete ownership of President Trump's policy in Afghanistan.” “He owns it,” Crocker said. “And I think it is already an indelible stain on his presidency.”

All U.S. troops, except for those guarding the embassy, are due to be out in three weeks.

LESSONS FOR IRAQ: The Center for Strategic and International Studies is out with a new report on Iraq and options for strategic cooperation with Iraq after the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces, scheduled for the end of the year.

“If there is any lesson the United States needs to learn from both its ‘long war’ in Afghanistan and its previous efforts in Iraq, it is that the U.S. cannot help a nation that cannot help itself,” writes the report's author Anthony Cordesman.

Iraq, he argues, is a very different case from Afghanistan. With the world’s fifth-largest proven oil reserves, Iraq, Cordesman writes, “not only is strategically important in itself, but its position between a hostile Iran and a Syria tied to Russia will have a major impact on the stability” of the region.

Cordesman examines three possible futures, of which he says the “most likely” is an Iraq that is “weak, corrupt,” and divided between Sunni, Shiite, and Kurds, with factions within each bloc. “This Iraq would exist in a self-inflicted state of economic collapse.”

Russia hosts Afghan talks, calls for inclusive government

  Russia hosts Afghan talks, calls for inclusive government MOSCOW (AP) — Russia hosted talks on Afghanistan on Wednesday involving senior representatives of the Taliban and other factions, a round of diplomacy that underlines Moscow's clout. Opening the talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emphasized that “forming a really inclusive government fully reflecting the interests of not only all ethnic groups but all political forces of the country” is necessary to achieve a stable peace in Afghanistan.Russia had worked for years to establish contacts with the Taliban, even though it has designated the group a terrorist organization in 2003 and never took it of the list.

Instead, he says, the U.S. should deal with Iraq as “a strategic partner that faces threats from Iran, Turkey, Syria, and the remnants of ISIS and other extremist groups.”

“It can provide military and economic assistance that will help Iraq stand on its own and become a stable and fully functioning state.”

The full report can be downloaded here.

DEL TORO CONFIRMED AS SECNAV: On a voice vote late Saturday, the Senate confirmed Carlos Del Toro, a former Navy surface warfare officer, to be Navy secretary.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called Del Toro, a Naval Academy graduate, well-prepared for the job, citing his “lifelong pursuits and deep experience.”

“Carlos rose through the ranks during the Cold War and Operation Desert Shield and Storm to serve as the first commanding officer of the destroyer USS Bulkeley DDG 84, and then later as a trusted aide to Pentagon leadership,” said Austin. “He understands firsthand the most pressing challenges and opportunities facing our Navy, from addressing the pacing challenge of China and modernizing our capabilities, to investing in our most valuable asset — our people.”

“As an immigrant who has dedicated his life to public service, Carlos exemplifies the core values of honor, courage, and commitment in defense of our country,” Austin said of the Cuban-born Del Toro.

With Del Toro’s confirmation, all three military departments, Army, Navy, and Air Force, have civilian service secretaries in place.

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The Rundown

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Calendar

MONDAY | AUGUST 9

11 a.m. — SmallSat 2021 conference with Space Force Lt. Gen. John Shaw, deputy commander, U.S. Space Command. https://smallsat.org

2 p.m. — Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers remarks at the University of Maryland on "the importance of investing in the infrastructure of tomorrow here at home in order to promote U.S. national security and our ability to compete globally." Livestream at https://www.state.gov

TUESDAY | AUGUST 10

8 a.m. — Potomac Officers Club virtual 2021 Digital Transformation Forum, with Danielle Metz, deputy CIO for information enterprise in the Office of the Defense Department Chief Information Officer Register at https://potomacofficersclub.com/events

8 a.m. — International Institute for Strategic Studies virtual discussion: “What is Cyber Power, and Where is it Going?" with Marcus Willett, senior adviser for cyber at IISS; and James Crabtree, executive director of IISS-Asia https://www.iiss.org/events/2021/08/cyber-power

10 a.m. — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies virtual Nuclear Deterrence and Missile Defense Forum, on the “need for U.S. nuclear modernization,” with Maj. Gen. Michael Lutton, the commander of the 20th Air Force, former Joint Staff deputy director for nuclear and homeland defense operations. Video posted afterward at https://mitchellaerospacepower.org/event/nuclear-deterrence

11 a.m. — Potomac Officers Club virtual Space Intelligence Forum with Brig. Gen. Gregory Gagnon, director of intelligence at U.S. Space Command. https://potomacofficersclub.com/events

11:30 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies “Smart Women, Smart Power” virtual discussion: “U.S. National Security Policy in the Indo-Pacific," with Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. https://www.csis.org/events

WEDNESDAY | AUGUST 11

6 p.m. — Politics and Prose Bookstore virtual book discussion on Here, Right Matters: An American Story, with author and retired Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, former National Security Council director for Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Russia; and Susan Glasser, staff writer at the New Yorker. https://www.politics-prose.com/event

THURSDAY | AUGUST 12

8 a.m. — Potomac Officers Club virtual Army Forum on "how the Army will drive future capabilities, with Christopher Lowman, senior official performing the duties of the Army undersecretary; and Gen. John Murray, commander of U.S. Army Futures Command. https://potomacofficersclub.com/events

10 a.m. — Woodrow Wilson Center Asia Program virtual “Hindsight Up Front series” discussion on nearly 20 years of U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, with focus on the U.S. withdrawal and its implications, with former national security adviser retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution; and Mark Green, president, director and CEO of WWC https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/hindsight-front

FRIDAY | AUGUST 13

1 p.m. — Cato Institute virtual book discussion on Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump, with author Spencer Ackerman, contributing editor at the Daily Beast; Abigail Hall, associate professor in economics at Bellarmine University; and Erin Simpson, former co-host of the Bombshell podcast from War on the Rocks. https://www.cato.org/events/reign-terror

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“If 300,000-plus can't defeat 50,000 or 60,000, it's not because 2,500 U.S. troops are gone. … At the end of the day, the United States can't be the guarantor of Afghan civil society, that has to be the Afghans' job.”

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, arguing that having trained Afghan forces that vastly outnumber the Taliban, there’s little more for the U.S. to do after 20 years.

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Tags: National Security, Daily on Defense

Original Author: Jamie McIntyre

Original Location: Afghan forces fold as rapid Taliban advances test will of government troops

Russia hosts Afghan talks, calls for inclusive government .
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia hosted talks on Afghanistan on Wednesday involving senior representatives of the Taliban and other factions, a round of diplomacy that underlines Moscow's clout. Opening the talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emphasized that “forming a really inclusive government fully reflecting the interests of not only all ethnic groups but all political forces of the country” is necessary to achieve a stable peace in Afghanistan.Russia had worked for years to establish contacts with the Taliban, even though it has designated the group a terrorist organization in 2003 and never took it of the list.

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