The United States was offered by the Taliban to secure Kabul the day former Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani deserted his post and fled the country, but declined saying it was committed to its plans to withdraw all troops by Aug. 31.
An Aug. 28 article by Washington Post titled Surprise, Panic and Fateful Choices: The Day America Lost its Longest War narrated the tale of how on the fateful day of Aug. 15, after the Taliban terrorist organization had seized control of the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif and the eastern city of Jalalabad, isolating the capital city of Kabul, according to an unnamed Afghan security official, “Everyone was ready to fight against the Taliban.”
When the official moved to deploy his troops to secure a checkpoint, a superior commander told him to “leave that for now,” adding, “You can do it in a few days.”
Relying on comments from a variety of anonymous former Afghan officials, Ghani, like Washington at the time, believed his administration could hold off the Taliban and “that the government just needed six months to turn the situation around.”
However, Afghanistan’s defense forces were apparently not even fighting. National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib, described by The Post as a “young, Western-educated official” with “scant experience in military or security affairs,” claimed his forces would retake lost territory, yet never made any attempts to do so.
The Post said high ranking U.S. diplomats and military commanders met with Ghani in July, but were “mystified” by the Afghan leader’s “lack of focus on the threat.” Ghani would take in intelligence, listen to suggestions, say all the right things during the meetings, but then take no action.
Instead, according to an Afghan official, “Ghani would want to talk about digitization of the economy.” On Aug. 14, the day before Kabul fell, Ghani met with only one advisor and “made arrangements to shore up the country’s economy” while ignoring the matter of departure arrangements or staff security as the Taliban sacked several key strategic points.
The Washington Post remarked that the U.S. was similarly complacent to the threat at hand, noting President Biden arriving at Camp David for vacation on Aug. 13 while Secretary of State Antony Blinken was already in the Hamptons for a break of his own.
An anonymous U.S. official said Biden’s vacation was interrupted on Aug. 14 after Mazar-e Sharif fell and he had to teleconference with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin where the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy and the destruction of critical documents, hardware, and computer systems was ordered.
Blinken, likewise, had had his reprieve interrupted. According to a U.S. official, on the evening of Aug. 14, it was Blinken, rather than Biden, who spoke with Ghani via phone where the Secretary sought the Afghan President’s support for a “U.S.-brokered arrangement with the Taliban in which the militants would remain outside Kabul if the Afghan leader would step aside as an interim government took charge.”
The goal, said the article, was to stall so as to create time for negotiations with the terrorists “aimed at forming an inclusive government that involved the Taliban, as well as others.”
However, the next day, Washington Post says Ghani’s advisors, who waited until the majority of his staff had left for lunch that “militants had entered the palace and were going room to room looking for him.” Apparently, this was a falsehood. The Post says the Taliban announced it had entered Kabul through checkpoints deserted by Afghan security forces, but “did not intend to take over violently” because “there was an agreement in place for a peaceful transition, and the group intended to honor it.”
Ghani’s advisors continued to betray the President, “It will either be your palace guards or the Taliban…but if you stay you’ll be killed,” they told him.
So the President, taking his wife and “a handful of top aides” left all of their belongings behind, immediately boarded military helicopters, and abandoned the country first for Uzbekistan and eventually the United Arab Emirates.
The remainder of Ghani’s staff returned from lunch to find the palace deserted and the President nowhere in sight.
Not only were both Vice Presidents in the dark about what had transpired, so was the Biden administration.
“Even after they had reached safety, the president and his party never circled back with senior officials who had been anxiously seeking their help,” said The Post. “Some of those who had worked closely with Ghani over the years felt betrayed, believing he had left them to die.”
An anonymous senior U.S. official was quoted as saying, “He [Ghani] not only abandoned his country, but then unraveled the security situation in Kabul…People just simply melted away, from the airport to everywhere else.”
A blindsided Biden administration was then said to have arranged an in-person meeting between Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, leader of U.S. Central Command, and the Taliban’s chief political officer, Abdul Ghani Baradar in Doha.
Baradar extended McKenzie a fateful olive branch during the meeting, “We have a problem…We have two options to deal with it: You [the United States military] take responsibility for securing Kabul or you have to allow us to do it.”
The Washington Post said, “Throughout the day, Biden had remained resolute in his decision to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan. The collapse of the Afghan government hadn’t changed his mind.”
So, Marine Gen. McKenzie told the Taliban “that the U.S. mission was only to evacuate American citizens, Afghan allies and others at risk,” and that they were only interested in the Kabul Airport.
As a result, the U.S. and the Taliban agreed that the U.S. military would control the Kabul Airport until Aug. 31, but the Taliban would control the city.
The loss for the United States alone was tremendous, surrendering as much as $83 billion in military hardware, including almost 76,000 vehicles, more than 400 aircraft, and almost 600,000 weapons.
In addition, over 16,000 pieces of intelligence and surveillance equipment were lost to the Taliban, including thousands of biometric scanners and a database containing the biometric data of more than 25 million Afghanistan’s 38 million citizens that was housed at the Interior Ministry.
According to an Aug. 27 report by New York Post based on an interview between the Pakistan-based terrorist organization Haqqani Network, a Taliban ally, and Zenger News, the Haqqani Network’s Al Iswa special forces were utilizing the database to run door-to-door checks to find U.S. sympathizers.
Nawazuddin Haqqani, a brigade commander of Al Iswa, made the grave comment to Zenger, “We’re in control of the Interior Ministry and the national biometric database they kept. We have everyone’s data with us now — including journalists and so-called human rights people.”
“But American, NDS [Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security] and RAW’s [India’s Research and Analysis Wing] puppets won’t be let off. They will always be watched by Al Isha. Those who were barking about having US dollars in their pockets till a few days back — they won’t be spared. They can’t be spared, can they?”