Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif limply fall to the Taliban: A hidden deal?
Kanako Mita and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The collapse of the armed forces of Afghanistan is astonishing given the alleged professional training by America, the United Kingdom, and other NATO powers. Hence, it seems that backchannels in America, Pakistan, the Taliban (in Qatar), and inside the armed forces of Afghanistan have all done a deal to hand power to the Taliban on a plate.
Thus, the fall of Mazar-e-Sharif was a sign that the game was over for President Ashraf Ghani. Therefore, once Mazar-e-Sharif fell, the writing was on the wall for Kabul and the leader of Afghanistan.
Modern Tokyo Times reported before the fall of Mazar-e-Sharif that “If Mazar-e-Sharif falls to the Taliban – and no movement similar to the Northern Alliance emerges – then an internal and external stamp is occurring in the short term. Part of this might be based on the capitulation of the armed forces of Afghanistan. Hence, little time for a military counter-offensive.”
If massacres are committed by the Taliban against ethnic Uzbeks and Tajiks – or against the Shia religious minority – then regional dynamics will emerge once more. Outside meddling might also occur if al-Qaeda or ISIS (Islamic State) utilize Afghanistan for terrorist and sectarian purposes. However, the geopolitical game is different with the demise of America and its respective leverages in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The former governor of Balkh province, Atta Mohammad Noor, along with General Rashid Dostum (ethnic Uzbek leader), fled Mazar-e-Sharif when they realized the armed forces of Afghanistan were fleeing. Noor and Dostum had no chance to galvanize the situation because of the speed of the capitulation of the armed forces of Afghanistan.
Noor and Dostum blamed the collapse of Mazar-e-Sharif – and Afghanistan in general – on a “conspiracy.”
Reuters reports, “Taliban forces entered the city virtually unopposed as security forces escaped up the highway to Uzbekistan, provincial officials said. Unverified pictures on social media showed Afghan army vehicles and men in uniforms crowding the iron bridge at the Hairatan crossing.”
AP news says, “The withdrawal of foreign troops and the swift collapse of Afghanistan’s own forces — despite hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. aid over the years — has raised fears the Taliban could return to power or that the country could be shattered by factional fighting, as it was after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. It’s also prompted many American and Afghan veterans of the conflict to question whether two decades of blood and treasure was worth it.”
The speed of events and the capitulation of the armed forces of Afghanistan point to a hidden deal. Indeed, the hands-off approach between remaining American troops and the Taliban in Kabul seems well-orchestrated, providing a false spark isn’t ignited by Taliban fighters who become out of control.
At the moment – it may change if the Taliban begin bloodletting on a large scale – an orderly handover of power from Ghani to the Taliban is occurring.
Voice of America reports, “Taliban sources told VOA that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s resignation was accepted during talks in Kabul. They said leaders and elders from Afghanistan will travel to Doha where the transfer of power to the Taliban will take place. There was no immediate comment from Ghani’s office.”
China, India, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan will all be watching events even more closely because of the geopolitical angle. Pakistan, given its ties to the Taliban, will increase its influence even if quietly at first. However, America and Western powers are now bit-part players because they can’t be trusted by any side (recent friend and continuing foe). This concerns the abrupt pullout of American troops under President Joe Biden – and European nations responding meekly.
The rich resources of Afghanistan and the ethnic composition of the nation means that a spark ignited by the Taliban could unleash new power dynamics – especially in Uzbek and Tajik areas. Iran will also maintain an eye on the Shia angle because of past massacres against this religious minority in Afghanistan.
However, for now, the ball is in the court of the Taliban.
Yet, recent history dictates that holding power is a different ball game.
Pity the women of Afghanistan and the Shia who will suffer the most under a new draconian legal system based on ruling by fear.
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