Kabul will fall to Taliban after US leaves: Intel

Kabul: US intelligence has warned that Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, will fall to the resurgent Taliban within six months of the departure of the last of US and international troops, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The warning comes at a time there is growing international concern about terror outfit Taliban making gains in Afghanistan since May 1, when the US and allied troops began leaving the country in accordance with a timeline announced by President Joe Biden for complete withdrawal by September 11 this year.

India, which is a key stakeholder in Afghan reconciliation and reconstruction, called for a UN-led “permanent and comprehensive ceasefire” in Afghanistan during a UN Security Council debate, pointing specifically to the sudden escalation in violence from May 1, to “ensure immediate reduction in violence and protection of civilian lives”.

The Journal report said that the US intelligence experts had earlier assessed that the government of President Ghani would survive for two years after the US withdrawal. This timeline was based roughly on the time it took for the fall of Saigon in Vietnam after the US withdrawal in 1975.

US intelligence and military analysts have since revised their assessment and now believe that Kabul could fall in six to 12 months after the departure of American troops, the Journal reported, adding that officials in other western countries have a far worse assessment of three months.

US military has planned to wound up the withdrawal process by as soon as July, going down from the 3,500 troopers currently still there to zero, barring a small force left behind for the protection of American diplomatic missions and officials.

“I will say that while, in general, we are seeing elevated attacks on ANDSF (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces) and Afghan government versus a year ago, we have not seen an increase in attacks on our military presence since February 2020,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in response to a question about the rapid military gains posted by the Taliban.

Image courtesy of (amnesty.org)

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