PICTURED: A U.S. Air Force Airman guides qualified evacuees aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III in support of the noncombatant evacuation operation at Hamid Karzai International Airport.
Story at a glance…
The evacuation is improving.
Anti-Taliban coalition claims to northern provinces, but quickly loses three districts.
Both Taliban and rebels want the dispute to resolve peacefully.
KABUL, Afghanistan. August 24th 2021. After more than a week of crisis on the tarmac in Kabul, reports are coming out that U.S. military officers have been coordinating the security situation with their brand new opposite numbers in the Taliban the whole time.
Eric Schmitt at the New York Times reports that Rear Adm. Peter G. Vasely, a former SEAL, and who is now the highest-ranking officer in Afghanistan, talks “daily or near-daily” with Taliban commanders.
This dialogue has helped lay down and keep clear the rules of engagement regarding the evacuations, and have allowed thousands of American and Afghan allies to reach the airport. Other officers have also reportedly reached across the isle so to speak, regarding the situation in the capital.
Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the U.S. and the Pentagon are consulting with the Taliban on “on every aspect of what’s happening in Kabul right now”.
It’s an old story at this point, and despite the differences the corporate media stress between the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s, the two sides have coordinated repeatedly over the 20-year scrap. At times the Army has paid protection money to the Taliban to allow their supply convoys to reach far off bases, only in order to procure the necessaries to continue fighting the Taliban.
A another chapter saw the military mount a plaque to an office door at Bagram Air Base that read “Taliban Air Force,” a designation reflecting a JSOC covert-ops program to provide the Taliban with close air cover as they fought against the local ISIS affiliate.
So far 37,000 people have been evacuated from the Kabul airport, and not a single attack or disruptive act has impeded it from the Taliban’s side. A statement from CENTCOM detailed that an unknown gunmen recently entered the airport but was shot dead after killing one Afghan guard and wounding several others. The Islamic Emirate are in fact contributing to the security, according to reports which state they have formed some kind of perimeter around the airport to keep the flow of would-be refugees and embassy staff manageable.
Battle in the north
Last weekend news came out of the northern provinces of Baghlan and Panjshir that an anti-Taliban coalition controlling about 6,000 fighters had taken control of the area under the leadership of one Ahmad Massoud.
Son of the deceased yet legendary mujahideen resistor of during the Soviet invasion, Ahmad Sha Massoud, Massoud the Younger seized the Panjshir Valley, an area famed for its resistance of just about anyone, Soviet, U.S. or Pashtun, that’s tried to conquer it.
However on Monday the districts of Bano, Deh Saleh, Pul e-Hesar, in Baghlan were retaken, after the Taliban announced on social media they were sending forces to recapture the region. Ready for a fight, Massoud nevertheless hopes for a peaceful resolution.
“We want to make the Taliban realize that the only way forward is through negotiation,” he told Reuters by telephone, adding “we do not want war to break out”.
Massoud controls a force composed principally of Persian-speaking Tajiks, while the Taliban are primarily Pashtuns from the southern and eastern provinces. His concerns are that the Taliban will essentially turn the country into a “Pashtunistan,” instead of a government reflective of the diversity of the Afghan population.
Speaking to the British media giant he said his forces would not last long without international support, worryingly opening the door for any kind of black ops involvement that has flying capabilities, from the U.S. looking to keep the Taliban stunted through infighting as they did so effectively in Syria, an Indian government that’s always despised the Taliban and their cozy relationship with regional rivals Pakistan, or perhaps a gulf monarchy who sees the restoration of oil imports from Iran as a potential threat.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Emirate’s version of the U.S. Press Secretary, said on Twitter that the main highway into the Panjshir Valley was blocked, but that “the Islamic Emirate is trying to resolve the problems peacefully”.