Diverse and inclusive

Four terrorists traded for the safe return of US soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, are now part of the Afghan government. Journalists pointed out at a White House press conference that there are more terrorists in the new Afghan government than women. That would seem a useless thing to highlight, except that the Biden administration had insisted that the Taliban install a diverse and “inclusive” government. Women in Kabul have protested the new government, but according to CNN, the Taliban is not taking kindly to protests of any sort.

The effort to evacuate Americans and allies from Kabul continues, but the Taliban have stopped planes from leaving, with the US government saying there is little they can do to prevent them from blocking the flights. Fox News reported that the State Department had also hindered rescue efforts, by refusing to grant approval for charter flights to leave, even for third countries.

The New York Times is reporting that the US drone strike following bombings at the Kabul airport did not take out a terrorist with a car full of explosives as claimed by the government. NYT says the strike actually killed an Afghan aid worker, as well as other civilians. The President was called out for his behavior during a 9/11 memorial, showing that emotion is still pretty raw following the withdrawal from Afghanistan.  

Exit wounds

four soldiers carrying rifles near helicopter under blue sky
Last week saw the final American soldier leave Afghanistan and the Taliban were glad to see him go. The future there is uncertain but with its troubled history of serial regime change, it would seem that for many Afghans, it’s business as usual. Lots of questions remain unanswered, including the claim that the US military knew of one of the airport bombers: A drone was locked on the man, but permission to fire was denied, for fear of Taliban reprisals.

The spin to mitigate the fallout from the tragic events surrounding the US exit has begun. In a strangely familiar scene, news outlets are reporting that President Biden made a phone call to Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani in July. In a leaked transcript of the call, President Biden told Ghani that the “perception” that the Taliban was winning needed to change. President Biden offered conditional air support for Ghani’s cooperation. It would seem we can remember another President who made a similar deal and was impeached for it

Visual Capitalist made a map of Afghanistan, with heaps of information about the country and its people.

Afghanistan

Anyone would be hard-pressed to avoid the news about Afghanistan last week, even those of us who have unplugged from bluescreens. The tragic images of young women pleading with soldiers to save them from the Taliban, are only slightly less harrowing than the footage of mothers passing their babies over razor wire to US troops at the Kabul airport. 

While it seems that British and French troops are managing to evacuate their own nationals, thousands of American citizens and allies are waiting to be rescued. Although the Taliban said they would allow safe passage out of the country for foreigners, reports that they have placed blockades around the airport would suggest otherwise. Daily Wire is reporting that Americans have been beaten up by Taliban soldiers in recent days. President Biden has said troops deployed to complete the evacuation of Americans will stay put until the job is done.

Axios says that the military is considering airstrikes to destroy American equipment which has been seized by the Taliban. The move could be risky, though, with foreign nationals still waiting to leave the country. The abandoned munitions, weapons and vehicles, including Black Hawk helicopters were given to the Afghan military. The concern that the Taliban making mischief with them is not as worrying as them being given to other terrorist groups.

The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, fled the country not long before the Taliban took control of Kabul and has reportedly surfaced in the United Arab Emirates, loaded with cash, defrauded from foreign aid programs. However former Vice-President Amrullah Saleh has vowed to fight the Taliban, although he is in hiding. Resistance fighters are creating hold-outs, expelling the Taliban from some regional towns. 

The work of dissecting “what went wrong” has been the job of every news outlet, apparently, and it appears there is plenty of blame to go round. While President Biden’s handling of the drawdown has been widely criticized, much ink has been spilled on the implications of the collapse of the Afghan state. Some commentators suggest that Western powers repeatedly failed the Afghan military, who appeared to have capitulated under Taliban insurgence. JD Vance and others suggested that America should learn that “nation building” begins at home (Matt Taibbi and Unherd) and they make a good point. Writing at Spiked, Brendan O’Neill pointed out the strength of a group like Taliban is that they know what they’re fighting for. He writes: “America and its Western allies are too consumed by wokeness to be able to pursue a moral or military struggle for their values.”

Taliban fighters enjoyed amusement park rides before they burned down the park.

Pray for the situation, for the government and those making huge decisions. Pray especially for veterans of the conflict who are wondering if all that they suffered and sacrificed in the hope of ending this branch of terrorism was worth it.

National Geographic has summarized the centuries of struggle for Afghanistan.

Threats, real and imagined

Homeland Security has issued a warning about a vague terror threat after a “rise in anti-government sentiment”. Here’s NBC’s summary (13 minute mark): opposition to COVID measures, and claims there was election fraud represent a potential terror threat.

After the recent withdrawal of remaining foreign troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban has quickly moved to take the country for their own. Distressing footage has been posted on the internet, as civilians try to flee the Taliban’s advance on the capital. Helicopters were sent to the embassy in Kabul to evacuate personnel.

In a press release, President Biden defended pulling troops out of Afghanistan, saying that if the Afghan military could not “hold its own country”, then more time would not have made any difference. However, it is puzzling why the withdrawal seems to have been such a clumsy effort, with munitions and buildings abandoned and unsecured. The President has deployed 5000 troops to help evacuate remaining Americans. 

Pray for safety for evacuees and for the church in that nation.