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  • Originally posted by Parihaka View Post
    do you give any credence to the reports the Pakistan armed forces were directly involved in the battles of Panjshir Valley?
    They did the same with Ahmad Shah Masood back in the 90s after the TB came to power but nobody noticed.

    Paks disguised as Mujaheedin tried to take Panshir and failed after the Mujaheddin could not.

    The Soviets could not take Panjshir either. Nine Campaigns.

    Threw everything at it, gunships, bombers, paras. Nothing. In the end they just bribed Massoud to stay out of the fighting.

    It's a good case study in mountain warfare. Look at the trouble a relatively small valley with mountains can pose to an attacker.

    When we heard that the Panjshir uprising had taken place, we said if the Russians couldn't do it, this ragtag outfit of the Taliban, this cartoon network ?? Fat chance

    they may be good guerillas, they may be good at sniping, they may be good at ambush and run, they may be good at laying IED's in crowded bazaars to kill maximum women and children but the Afghan is not amenable to barrack room discipline.

    He cannot stand up and fight in set piece operations like attacking and capturing fixed defenses.
    More operational details from General GD Bakshi.

    The TB asked Bajwa, get us Amrullah and we wil do whatever you want in J&K.

    General Bajwa sent Major General Adil Rahmani, he's the head of the Pakistani Special Services Group (SSG). That's their SEAL equivalent, their best outfit. So Major General Adil Rahmani with two batalions of the SSG officered all by Afghans. One of them led by Lt. Col Umaid(?) along with a squadron of tanks from their 6th Lancers regiment, painted over, a company of APC's, one battery of 155mm guns, Cobra attack helicopters and 4 Chinese drones.

    They were tasked with opening the way into the Panjshir valley. They expected Amrullah Saleh to cut and run like Ghani.

    So the SSG para dropped from the C130 Hercules aircraft.. They had a sniper detachments at every bridge, at every choke point. So that if Amrullah was escaping they could shoot him or capture him and then they wanted to have a televised beheading to put the fear of god into every single Afghan......

    Listen to the General for the rest...
    What i found interesting is it is stated that the resistance had air cover.

    From whom ? the general does not say or will not say

    Panjshir right now is still 70% in rebel hands and odds are good they will continue to hold out.

    No word from Saleh or Massoud's son since. We trust they are both well.
    Last edited by Double Edge; 22 Sep 21,, 19:39.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Firestorm View Post

      When it comes to Pakistan you did not actually need to use the stick (in terms of military action) to force them to behave in Afghanistan. Their economy has been dependent on foreign aid and the IMF for nearly the entire duration of the Afghan war. Squeezing them would be child's play. I mean the US has shown it can do that when it wants to. You guys brought Iran to its knees using sanctions alone and they were much better off economically than Pakistan prior to that.

      I don't know how you can talk about a cooperative Pakistan when it is clear they were actively conspiring against the US backed regime in AF the whole time (not to mention storing OBL for several years). Talking to them behind the scenes has clearly not worked looking at the results. Check the Colonel's post on Pakistani involvement in the final Taliban assaults.
      I saw what the Colonel wrote and concur there were at the very least ISI personnel.

      That said, our primary interest is to get everyone out we can and don't want to shut any possible evacuation routes. And a carrot willwork better than a stick right now.

      But the last 20 years have shown us we cannot keep swinging the stick. And as for Pak proper...China would love to step in even more to offset India's rise.
      “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
      Mark Twain

      Comment


      • Trump initially gave the order to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by Jan. 15, Joint Chiefs Chair Milley confirms
        Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that he had received an "unclassified signed order" from former President Donald Trump on Nov. 11, 2020 to withdraw all armed forces from Afghanistan by Jan. 15, confirming previous reporting on the matter.

        The Military Times' Meghann Myers notes the order came two days after Trump fired former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who was worried about such a move. Trump did eventually pull the order back after further discussions, Milley says. The Jan. 15 date is notable because it would have taken place five days before Trump was set to leave the White House, though at the time Milley says he gave the order, the presidential election results were still somewhat up in the air, at least from Trump's perspective.

        Milley also addressed the Trump administration's 2020 negotiations with the Taliban, which many critics argue helped set the stage for their rapid and successful offensive to retake Afghanistan this summer. He said the Taliban failed to honor nearly all of their commitments, including cutting ties with al Qaeda. Additionally, both Milley and Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, agreed the deal negatively affected the morale and performance of the Afghan army.
        _______

        Supporting or defending Donald Trump is such an unforgivable moral failing that it calls every bit of your judgement and character into question. Nothing about you should be trusted if you can look at this man and find redeemable value

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        • Trrruuuuummmmmppppppp!





          Hint to Joe: Trump setting the initial deadline is already well known and commented on.
          In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.

          Leibniz

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Parihaka View Post
            Trrruuuuummmmmppppppp!





            Hint to Joe: Trump setting the initial deadline is already well known and commented on.
            I'm aware of that, thanks. This is about General Milley's testimony before Congress today. Just like this post in a different thread.

            Considering the controversy surrounding General Milley on multiple topics, I thought it relevant to post his much-awaited testimony in the appropriate threads.

            However if you feel it truly superfluous and without value, I'll be happy to delete it.
            Supporting or defending Donald Trump is such an unforgivable moral failing that it calls every bit of your judgement and character into question. Nothing about you should be trusted if you can look at this man and find redeemable value

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            • Generals say they opposed Biden decision to withdraw all troops

              It's been nearly one month since the U.S. withdrew all U.S. troops from Afghanistan on President Joe Biden's order to leave by Aug. 31, ending a chaotic evacuation operation after the Afghan government collapsed and the Taliban seized the capital Kabul.

              Since then, the U.S. has facilitated the departure of at least 85 U.S. citizens and 79 lawful permanent residents, according to a senior State Department official. In the coming days, they expect to evacuate around 100 more U.S. citizens and residents from the Kabul area.

              Top Pentagon leaders are appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday amid bipartisan criticism of the chaotic withdrawal and on the failure to anticipate the Taliban's swift takeover of the country.

              After nearly six hours of testimonies and tough questions, the Senate Armed Services Committee has adjourned its hearing with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command -- their first since the Afghanistan withdrawal.

              Senators sunk into Milley and McKenzie saying they had recommended leaving 2,500 troops behind as a residual force in Afghanistan ahead of the chaotic evacuation effort. Several GOP senators called on the leaders to resign, to which Milley offered a powerful rebuttal.

              "It would be an incredible act of political defiance for a commissioned officer to just resign because my advice is not taken," Milley said. "My dad didn't get a choice to resign at Iwo Jima."

              White House press secretary Jen Psaki, during the hearing, defended Biden's interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in which the president said the views of his advisers were "split," saying, “There was no one who said, 'Five years from now, we could have 2,500 troops, and that would be sustainable.'”

              "That was not a decision the president was going to make," Psaki added. "Ultimately, it's up to the commander in chief to make a decision. He made a decision it was time to end a 20-year war.”

              It's been nearly one month since Biden withdrew all U.S. troops, ending a chaotic evacuation operation after the Afghan government collapsed and the Taliban seized the capital Kabul.

              White House insists there was a range of military advice on whether to keep residual force

              White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the discrepancy between President Biden telling ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in August that commanders were "split" and Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and head of CENTCOM Gen. Frank McKenzie telling senators Tuesday they recommended keeping 2,500 troops.

              “There was a range of viewpoints, as was evidenced by their testimony today, that were presented to the president, that were presented to the national security team, as would be expected, as he asks for," Psaki said, after quoting the ABC News transcript.

              "Again, I'm not going to get into specific details of who recommended what, but I can, I would reiterate a little bit of what I conveyed before, which is that there were recommendations made by a range of his advisors, something he welcomed, something he asked them to come to him clear-eyed about, to give him candid advice," Psaki said later on.

              "What is also clear, though -- and I'd also note again what Secretary Austin said today, is that was not going to be a sustainable, over the long-term, troop presence. We were always going to look at escalating the numbers, at potentially going back to war with the Taliban, at risking casualties," she reiterated.

              Milley pushes back on calls to resign, knocks tying withdrawal to specific date

              Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., asked Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Mark Milley why, given that advice to leave 2,500 troops behind, wasn't taken by the president, he hasn't resigned. Milley said it would be "an incredible act of political defiance for a commissioned officer to just resign because my advice is not taken."

              "As a senior military officer, resigning is a really serious thing. It's a political act if I'm resigning in protest," Milley said. "The president doesn't have to agree with that advice, he doesn't have to make those decisions just because we're generals. And it would be an incredible act of political defiance for a commissioned officer to just resign because my advice is not taken."

              Appearing to break publicly with President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, Milley was later asked about the pace of withdrawal and said that he was opposed to putting a date to military withdrawals, as "two presidents in a row" have done, saying conditions should always be in place. He added, though, that risks to Americans would have increased if the U.S. remained past Sept. 1.

              "Senator, as a matter of professional advice, I would advise any leader, don't put date-certains on end dates. Make things, conditions-based. Two presidents in a row put dates on it. I don't think -- that's, my advice, don't put specific dates," Milley said.

              __________
              Supporting or defending Donald Trump is such an unforgivable moral failing that it calls every bit of your judgement and character into question. Nothing about you should be trusted if you can look at this man and find redeemable value

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              • Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
                ..... Appearing to break publicly with President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, Milley was later asked about the pace of withdrawal and said that he was opposed to putting a date to military withdrawals, as "two presidents in a row" have done, saying conditions should always be in place. He added, though, that risks to Americans would have increased if the U.S. remained past Sept. 1.

                "Senator, as a matter of professional advice, I would advise any leader, don't put date-certains on end dates. Make things, conditions-based. Two presidents in a row put dates on it. I don't think -- that's, my advice, don't put specific dates," Milley said.
                Wow, I would have though his point should have been blindingly obvious to both administrations back when the option of setting 'fixed' withdrawal dates was initially under consideration. I wonder how Biden and Trump will respond. (Well not really Trump, that I can pretty much guess.)
                If you are emotionally invested in 'believing' something is true you have lost the ability to tell if it is true.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Monash View Post
                  Wow, I would have though his point should have been blindingly obvious to both administrations back when the option of setting 'fixed' withdrawal dates was initially under consideration. I wonder how Biden and Trump will respond. (Well not really Trump, that I can pretty much guess.)
                  Really doesn't matter. The Soviets had conditions, including a truce with Ahmed Shah Massoud. Still didn't stop the Afghans from harrassing the hell out of their withdrawl. No matter what you do, there are no good optics leaving Afghanistan. Well, one. Leave permenant settlerment/garrison to protect your borders.

                  Chimo

                  Comment


                  • Pointing Fingers

                    Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, and Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie stopped by the Hill yesterday for a chat with the Senate Armed Services Committee about the Afghanistan withdrawal. The dominant theme of the many hours of testimony: Cover your ass.

                    There were really three interest groups, or factions, or camps—you can choose which word you like best—in the room yesterday. The first faction was the Republicans, who want very badly to pin all of this on Joe Biden. So, their questions were laser-focused on that goal. They managed to get a few useful talking points out of the trio—particularly Milley—which we will get to in a moment. On the whole, however, the Republican members weren't especially effective. In part, that is because the version of events they are peddling doesn't square with reality. And in part, that is because today's Republicans generally lack subtlety, and each of these three high-ranking men are very smart and know what it looks like when they are being steered into dishing dirt. While they are willing to be truthful, they are not about to throw their boss completely under the bus.

                    The second camp was the Democrats, who want very badly to pin this on Donald Trump, and more broadly to frame it as a 20-year failure that started with George W. Bush, continued through two additional presidencies, and left Biden holding the bag. The Democrats, particularly Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), were a little more successful than the Republicans in advancing their goals. In part, that is because their version of events is considerably more rooted in reality. In particular, Warren repeatedly made the very salient point that Republicans are slamming Biden now, but they said nary a critical word about the Doha agreement that was negotiated by the Trump administration and that committed the U.S. to a pullout on a "this year" timetable. You can't have it both ways, was her point. The Democrats also had greater success because the three witnesses are going to be more willing to be frank about former commanders-in-chief, particularly the recent one that none of the three likes, than the current commander-in-chief.

                    And finally, the last interest group was the military, represented by two current generals and one retired general. They had, and have, several goals: (1) appear apolitical, (2) avoid tearing down Joe Biden too much, and (3) pin all of this on the civilians and not the military. As the trio dealt with various questions, while trying to accomplish these things, there were three main revelations:
                    1. 2,500 Troops: Back in August, Biden sat for an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos. And during that appearance, Stephanopoulos grilled the President: "So no one told—your military advisers did not tell you, 'No, we should just keep 2,500 troops. It's been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that'?" Biden's response was: "No. No one said that to me that I can recall." On Monday, Milley and McKenzie directly contradicted that, declaring that their consistent point of view, and their consistent advice, was to keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.

                    This, of course, is the talking point that Republican politicians and the right-wing media have seized upon, using it to make two arguments about Biden. The first is that Biden is a liar (or is showing his senility). We're only going to address the "liar" part, since the senility thing is unsupported with evidence, and is something that opponents of the President throw out reflexively whenever they can. Anyhow, Biden quite clearly hedged a bit when answering Stephanopoulos, leaving open the possibility that he was indeed advised to keep 2,500 troops. This suggests he wasn't being entirely honest when he said that and that he knew it. On the other hand, the generals hedged a bit yesterday, referring to keeping troops in Afghanistan as their "preferred" option, but not going so far as to say they strongly advocated for that position. Historians get to deal with these sorts of discrepancies all the time and know that, in general, the truth is somewhere in the middle. And so, the guess here is that the generals did suggest leaving troops in Afghanistan once or twice and then, when it was clear that would not be happening, put that opinion in their pocket and left it there.

                    The second argument being made against Biden is that he thinks he knows better than the military, and that he ignored their expert advice and substituted his own judgment. "Biden was not entirely honest" has some merit to it. This argument, by contrast, does not. Military leadership is very provincial, and sees issues through the lens of their own needs, concerns, and goals. The same is true of cabinet secretaries, progressive members of the House, conservative members of the Senate, families of deployed soldiers, lobbyists, and countless other interest groups. It is literally the job of the president to take all of these disparate perspectives, to distill them down, and to use his judgment to make a decision. If presidents did not overrule their generals, George McClellan would still be encamped on the north bank of the Potomac while begging for more men; the U.S. would have invaded northern France two years earlier, and perhaps two years too soon, in World War II; there likely would have been a nuclear war with China over Korea; and the U.S. would still be slugging it out in Vietnam (and Iraq, and Afghanistan). To Milley's credit, he noted repeatedly that the buck does stop with the president, and that anything the generals say is just advice that the president is free to disregard.

                    2. Strategic Failure: Milley, who clearly spent some time working up this phrasing, described what happened in Afghanistan as "a logistical success but a strategic failure." This was the Democrats' favorite talking point, since it allowed them to zoom in on how things went so wrong over the course of the entire conflict. Milley conceded that the Afghan army had not been trained to operate on its own, without American support, and that it was never going to last, long-term. He also said that the key turning point was the Doha agreement, which wrecked morale among both the American and Afghan armies.

                    "Logistical success but a strategic failure" is a neat bit of wordplay, since strategic decisions are primarily made by the civilians, while logistics are handled almost entirely by the military. In other words, Milley's formulation basically translates as: "the military did a great job, but the civilians screwed up." Of course, it wasn't the civilians who were (badly) training the Afghan army. In fact, that does not seem like a strategic issue at all, it seems like a...logistical issue.

                    3. Long-Term Damage: Milley did not particularly want to address this subject, but the Republicans insisted. Austin, McKenzie, and he all agreed that the war on terror is not over, and that the withdrawal from Afghanistan emboldened ISIS, Al-Qaeda, etc. And in response to a question from Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Milley also said: "I think that our credibility with allies and partners around the world, and with adversaries, is being intensely reviewed by them to see which way this is going to go. And I think that 'damage' is one word that could be used, yes."

                    The "revelation" that the war on terror is not over, and that ISIS, Al-Qaeda, etc. are going to be emboldened is hardly a revelation. We wrote that several times, and we've never been high-ranking military officers, not even for a day. Nor did we stay at a Holiday Inn Express before writing that. The real question, which Republicans did not particularly care to pursue, is whether pouring billions of additional dollars into Afghanistan, and continuing to put American lives in danger, is the most efficacious way to limit terrorism. Biden decided that it wasn't, and, based on polls, the majority of the American public seems to agree. Actually, based on their response to the Doha agreement, the majority of Republicans in Congress seem to agree, too.

                    As to America's credibility abroad, boy oh boy did Milley try to tread lightly with that one. Of course, he's just making his best guess, and this would hardly be the first time that someone predicted gloom and doom for American credibility abroad (see pretty much everything William Westmoreland and Curtis LeMay said/wrote after Vietnam, for example). Based on the general response in foreign media, it seems that most people abroad understand why Biden made the choice he did and support it. More broadly, however, much of the 21st century world order has the U.S. as its foundation. Other countries may have no real choice but to put their faith in America. For example, the Aussies didn't seem to have too many concerns about credibility when they agreed to the AUKUS deal.


                    So, where does this go from here? Well, to start, Duckworth said she is preparing legislation that would form the Afghanistan War Study Commission, which would take a very careful look at the entire 20-year span of the war, and would try to figure out exactly what went wrong. If that bill becomes law, and if Afghanistan is placed under a microscope, that could lead to some very useful conclusions. Maybe, just maybe, the U.S. can avoid yet another sequel to Vietnam.

                    Beyond that, one wonders what Milley's shelf life is in his current post. He got roped into that Bible photo-op with Donald Trump, and then came the revelations that he was running interference in the final weeks of Trump's term and also acting as a shadow Secretary of State. Now, Democrats are unhappy about some of the things he said on Monday. The General has tried to remain "above politics," but he's not having enormous success, and one wonders how much more damage his image can take before he's pressured to resign.

                    And finally, there is the impact on Biden. Afghanistan has already taken its place among the litany of complaints that Republicans wield against Biden; these days it's ImmigrationAfghanistanJobKillingInflationGasPrices LaptopKeystoneVaccineMandatesMentalDecline, often sputtered out without pauses between the items on the list. Undoubtedly, that fires up people who were never going to vote Biden/Democratic anyhow. However, we are sticking with our view that by the time of the next election, in 406 days, Afghanistan is just not going to be a key issue, and that nearly all voters will have other things (economy, pandemic, infrastructure, etc.) on their minds. (Z)
                    _______
                    Supporting or defending Donald Trump is such an unforgivable moral failing that it calls every bit of your judgement and character into question. Nothing about you should be trusted if you can look at this man and find redeemable value

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                    • Victory has a 1000 fathers while Defeat is an orphan.

                      It really doesn't matter who decided what and when was what done. We've lost Afghanistan the second we decided can't bleed Afghanistan into submission. Insurgency/guerrilla warfare has only one strategy - to outbleed the occupier. The counter strategy is obvious - then bleed them white. Every man, woman, child, dog. If you're willing to bleed them all, you will see how fast all will be coming to your side if only not to be bled.

                      But we are not Nazis. We don't want to stomache that kind of war. The Taliban does.
                      Last edited by Officer of Engineers; 02 Oct 21,, 02:17.
                      Chimo

                      Comment


                      • ‘Why did we fight?’ Challenge of governing is wearing down Taliban.

                        The veteran Taliban fighter once strove for martyrdom on the Afghan battlefield of what he considered an Islamic revolution.

                        But the Taliban insurgency’s lightning victory in August has yet to bring a long-promised paradise, says Rahmatullah. Instead, he fears, it’s revealing internal divisions, even resentment.

                        “We struggled and fought in extreme poverty. Now our leaders are ruling and have luxury cars and lots of facilities, but the majority of mujahideen don’t have salaries and their families are worse off,” says the fighter, who uses one name.

                        “Some of the lower echelons of the mujahideen are now wondering, ‘What was the benefit of our struggle, and why did we fight?’”

                        To be sure, there is peace today and relative security, a balm to all Afghans after 40 years of war. And Taliban leaders, fighters, and many Afghans welcome restoration of the self-declared Islamic Emirate, and its strict interpretation of Islamic law.

                        But the Taliban are fast finding that winning a war is easier than governing, say analysts, and are overwhelmed by the challenge of feeding and ensuring services to some 40 million people.

                        The transition to governing has been made more difficult by the shut-off of critical cash from Western donors – money that propped up Kabul governance for years – as well as widespread drought and displacement, as winter approaches.

                        With no cash and no plan, a multitude of rifts are emerging among the Taliban. And they are already breeding resentment – between regions, between haves and have-nots as they tussle over the spoils of victory, and between those who dreamed of an Islamic revolution but are getting a power grab by a movement that never thought through the basics of ruling an entire nation.

                        “There is a clear understanding among the leadership that it’s way more problematic than they thought it would be, so right now they are under pressure to control their own men,” says Rahmatullah Amiri, a Kabul-based independent expert on the Taliban.

                        The Achilles’ heel of Taliban rule may not be the threat from militants like Islamic State, he says, but how the dangers of mass hunger and a failing economy might exacerbate intra-Taliban divisions and spark broader discontent.

                        “The biggest thing they didn’t think about is the economy,” says Mr. Amiri, noting the importance of Western donor funds resuming. “This is way beyond their imagination, way beyond their capacity to understand.”

                        It’s no longer just about residents of rural and often remote areas under insurgent Taliban control, he says. “It’s about millions and millions of people.”

                        Leaders’ promises
                        When the Monitor first met Rahmatullah in February 2020 – the day after he had helped blow up a nearby bridge – the fighter whose nom de guerre of Mullah Sarbakhod means one who rushes forward wildly, without thinking, was already expressing distrust of Taliban chiefs, “if they prefer money or promotions to the dangers of the front line.”

                        Interviewed this week in Wardak province, southwest of Kabul, he cites frequent disputes over confiscated vehicles and property, and instances where Taliban from southern provinces like Kandahar and the Haqqani network tell groups like his, from Wardak, to leave the capital and “return to their villages,” sowing resentment as they impose their own grip on power.

                        “I am sure if they don’t solve these problems, dissatisfaction will arise and lead to conflict in the future. Maybe some of the Taliban will change their ways, and leave the Taliban forever,” says the fighter. “Now is the time for our leaders to live up to their promises to the Afghan nation.”

                        Failure to meet expectations – among Taliban faithful and civilians alike – could lead to an unraveling for the jihadis, who are already deeply unpopular in many provinces, and often thin on the ground.

                        “They don’t have the means to provide economic improvements to the community, and people get hungry,” says Mr. Amiri. “Crime will increase. A time could come when people will take arms against them because of lack of jobs.”

                        A father’s story
                        That would not surprise the father of Mullah Zahid, a 22-year-old former Taliban fighter who joined the insurgency at the age of 16 in Wardak province but today exemplifies how some true believers have been forced to steal to get by.

                        According to his father, Mullah Zahid said, “The Taliban promised us that after victory they would give important positions; everyone will be paid a good salary.” But the son received no money while deployed in Kabul, and ate only bread and water, recounts the father, who was contacted in Kabul and asked not to be named.

                        Mullah Zahid told him: “There was nothing to eat, so we started stealing because there was no other option. Several times we stole from people’s houses, and it was a big shame for us to threaten people to pay us. Also, we stole computers from government offices and sold them in the bazaar, and sold our weapons, for food money.”

                        Such moves were once unthinkable, from a group that made its name imposing harsh punishments like amputating the hands of thieves.

                        When Mullah Zahid asked Taliban officials to pay for food, he was told to keep waiting. “We saw they had luxury cars and homes; they had a lot of money and enough food, but we were always hungry,” his father quoted him as saying.

                        Last week, Mullah Zahid left the Taliban and went to Iran, in search of work.

                        “There was no jihad,” says the father. “The Taliban fights for money and power, but our sons give big sacrifices. We will never forgive them.”

                        “An ill-thought-out power grab”
                        Such sentiment will do little to help the Taliban consolidate power, as the former insurgents struggle to satisfy a population dramatically changed since the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan 20 years ago.

                        “A lot of Afghans have concluded it isn’t an Islamic revolution; it’s an ill-thought-out power grab, which rather delegitimizes the Taliban,” says Michael Semple, an Afghanistan expert at Queen’s University Belfast and former adviser to the European Union in the country.

                        Another abiding impression among Afghans is that the Taliban “are steeped in their clannishness,” and used their power grab “to distribute the fruits of victory within their own very well-defined circles, so there’s no issue of serving the population,” says Mr. Semple.

                        One scenario Afghans suggest is that “the sheer inability of the Taliban to cope ... means they really won’t survive more than six months – I think that has to be taken seriously,” he says.

                        Yet, whether or not an overthrow is even feasible, the “basic point is the current Taliban administration is incredibly, inherently fragile, for now,” Mr. Semple says. “There’s nothing inevitable about the Taliban remaining in power in this form.”

                        Recognizing that risk for themselves, the Taliban “really are moving fast to deploy an authoritarian apparatus to try and snuff out all forms of resistance, civil or military, before they really take hold,” says Mr. Semple.

                        An obligation to improve lives
                        But the Taliban are finding that they control far fewer variables than they once did, when they could count on widespread anger about the foreign military presence, corruption in Kabul, and their Islamist message to fill their ranks.

                        Suleiman Roostami, a long-bearded and young-faced Taliban district commander in Wardak, is hopeful that his years of fighting were not in vain, and that Taliban chiefs “will give the rights to all people, including women.”

                        At the same time, he voices concern that the quest for power by some in the Taliban will overshadow their obligation to improve the lives of the Afghan people.

                        When the Monitor first met Mr. Roostami in early 2020, he noted the futility of continued war – a realization that stemmed from an attack by his unit on a police post. A dozen people died in that clash, but nothing changed. He expressed the hope then that both his young sons and daughters could all be educated.

                        But now he tells how his unit, among the first to enter Kabul, was forced to hand over vehicles, captured facilities, and heavy weapons to Taliban from Kandahar and the Haqqani network. They “despise” Wardakis, he says, and “are seeking to gain more power ... which may become a big problem in the future [and] very bad for the Taliban.”

                        Also important is “social justice” for fighters who have sacrificed for years, he says. Failure to provide that could mean most regional Afghan warlords “will be against the Taliban, and it will pave the way for a new conflict and war,” says Mr. Roostami.

                        Taliban leaders should also improve citizens’ quality of life, says Mr. Roostami. “If they don’t pay attention to this, I am sure all the nation will be against us.”
                        ______________

                        Supporting or defending Donald Trump is such an unforgivable moral failing that it calls every bit of your judgement and character into question. Nothing about you should be trusted if you can look at this man and find redeemable value

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                        • Intent declared. Let's see what comes next


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