At least 13 US servicemen are among the 100 people reported dead in the terrorist bombings outside Kabul’s airport and near a hotel where foreigners awaiting evacuation were staying. Daesh has claimed responsibility, and the US and the Taliban are also pinning the blame on the terrorist group. Initial reports suggest that some kind of intelligence failure took place, since American intelligence had warned of a “specific” type of attack on people attempting to flee Afghanistan. There is also a haze over the number of explosions. At least two have been confirmed, but some sources report several more.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, in a statement, claimed that the sounds of explosions later in the day were actually US forces ‘safely’ destroying their own weapons and equipment at the airport ahead of the withdrawal. The Americans did not confirm this, but given that the Taliban did not accuse the Americans of wrongdoing or causing any harm to life with their explosions, it is not really a point of contention. The US has already gotten bad press over the amount of modern American weapons that the Taliban have acquired from abandoned stocks of the Ghani government’s security forces. It makes sense that they would not want even more equipment falling into the Taliban’s hands.
Despite the bloodshed, there may be some positives in Biden’s address after the attack. He said the US would come after the attackers. “We will not forgive, we will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.” Biden also went as far as stating, “There is no evidence thus far from our commanders in the field that there has been collusion between Taliban and ISIS.” The Biden administration has also reiterated that evacuations will continue, and that the Taliban have been assisting them where possible without creating any hurdles.
Meanwhile, in the US, a few opposition figures, including Senator Josh Hawley — a Trump ally who has been accused of supporting January’s terrorist attack by Trump supporters on the US Capitol — started calling for Biden to quit. It was an odd sight, considering that Biden’s hands were tied by the terrible negotiations Trump and his administration had done with the Taliban.
Indeed, the chaos in Kabul is something that several world leaders and military figures, including some from Pakistan, had feared was coming because of the Trump administration’s failure to get the Taliban to agree to a unity government and for the hard deadline agreed for the withdrawal of American troops. The partisanship in Washington threatens to derail any chance that the US has of working with the Taliban to combat their common enemy — Daesh.
For all of their failings, the Taliban are universally accepted as a better alternative to Daesh, and for several years have been the main force keeping the group’s Afghan affiliate at bay. This is also a key reason why neighbouring countries want stability in Afghanistan. Unlike the previous Afghan government, the Taliban have shown the resolve to fight the multinational terrorist group.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2021.
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