Drone Strike in Residential Neighborhood in Kabul
Defense Department officials confirmed that a drone strike took out a person in a vehicle that may have been intending to attack U.S. forces at the Karzai airport. The Taliban claim that a child was killed, without confirming any other deaths. This strike may have spoiled the anticipated attack for which a warning was issued yesterday.
If we are hitting targets in residential neighborhoods in Kabul, it is either with the cooperation of the Taliban or we do not fear retaliation against our troops at the airport because most, if not all, are already evacuated as this is being written.
Taliban Close to Forming Government, Anxious to Maintain Relations With Western Countries
The Taliban are saying that their cabinet will be inclusive but that they are not interested in power-sharing.
“The leadership has assigned deputy chief Sirajuddin Haqqani and the other deputy chief Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob to finalize names for the cabinet,” the Taliban announced. It is telling that these are the head of the Haqqani Network and the son of dead Taliban founder Mullah Omar.
The Taliban will not announce the formation of their government until U.S. forces leave the country. The Taliban are also saying they want good relations with the U.S. and other western countries.
The Taliban appear to be unsure of how secure their position is in the country. They are promising inclusion in their new government with an eye towards trying to head off a new civil war that could depose them.
One of the tactics they employed in their rapid advance across the country was to offer provinces relative autonomy under a general pledge of loyalty to the Taliban. In some cases, the Taliban massacred surrendering Afghan government forces and in others they allowed them to surrender and return to their homes. The difference in behavior was probably due to a combination of ethnic hatred between the Pashtun Taliban and other tribes that are their traditional enemies. We also note the statements made by the Taliban of a general amnesty against the numerous reports of the Taliban going door to door with lists of names of people to be killed or imprisoned for cooperating with the U.S. or the Afghan government.
We think the Taliban wanting to wait until U.S. forces have left is an indication that Afghans will not like what this new government looks like, and want to preclude that the U.S. will be induced to remain because of the composition of the new government.
That the Taliban desire to have good relations with western countries is also a contrivance of political expediency. The World Bank has cut off Afghanistan from its loan funds and Afghanistan’s seat in the UN is still occupied by a delegation of the previous government. In order for the Taliban to take over the country’s seat in the UN General Assembly, the secretary-general must give his approval. As a member of the Permanent Security Council, the U.S. could block this. It could also refuse to grant entry into the U.S. to any member of the Taliban or Haqqani Network which are both designated as terrorist organizations. Taliban delegated to their UN mission would also enjoy diplomatic immunity in the United States. It would seem almost impossible to imagine the Biden Administration removing the Taliban and Haqqani Network from the terrorist list and giving their representatives immunity in the U.S. without disastrous political consequences.
Taliban Complain US Should Have Gotten Their Permission Before Strike on ISIS-K
From a Reuters story quoting a Taliban spokesman,
“The Americans should have informed us before conducting the airstrike. It was a clear attack on Afghan territory, two were killed, and two women and a child were wounded in the attack.”
The Taliban claim they have also arrested some of those involved in the bombing(s) at the Kabul airport that killed and wounded nearly 400 Afghan civilians including 13 U.S. military personnel.
One of the problems in dealing with the Taliban on anything is that they tend to talk out of both sides of their mouth at the same time. They claimed exclusive control over the area outside the airport prior to the bombing(s) and then, when the bombings occurred, claimed that the U.S. was in charge of security outside the Abbey Gate as well even as they acknowledged that their own security guards were among the casualties.
The Taliban condemned the attack and blamed it on ISIS-K, a terrorist organization that opposes the Taliban. They claim to have arrested ISIS-K members who remain unnamed. Then, they condemn the U.S. for striking at ISIS-K without them knowing and make a point of claiming that women and a child were injured. As if the United States is their partner in security and the Taliban are suddenly concerned about casualties among civilians.
Did the Kabul Bombing(s) Trigger the Demolition of CIA’s Eagle Base?
For some 18 years, the CIA used an area east of the Kabul airport called the Eagle Base. It was used as part of a training area for the Afghan Security Service and a “Black Site” used to interrogate and confine prisoners. Media reports claim it was being used to house Afghan civilians and almost immediately following the bombing at the Abbey Gate it was destroyed by demolition charges to prevent sensitive equipment and documents from falling into the hands of the Taliban. Also, outside Kabul, there was a detention site called Salt Pit.
The day prior to the bombing(s) at Karzai airport the U.S. Military was alerted that ISIS-K would attempt an attack on the airport in force. The first bombing at the Abbey Gate and the possibility of another at the Baron Hotel may have triggered the immediate demolition of Eagle Base fearing the airport was about to be overrun. There is an apparent contradiction between reports that the base was destroyed to get rid of documents and sensitive equipment and that it was used to house Afghan civilians. Unless those civilians were persons of special interest to the CIA, like members of the Afghan Security Service.
Army Geen Beret Tim Kennedy is in Afghanistan and shared this with his Twitter followers on August 28:
“No military escorts from outside the airport perimeter”
“Absolutely no more entry into the airport”
“Explosions you heard were controlled demolitions of concrete up against North Gate to make sure it never opens again.”
“Anyone who climbs the wall will be shot.”
“U.S. government advice. Stay well away from former U.S. government compounds + airport. They will get bombed after 24 hours.”
The civilian evacuation efforts ended immediately following the bombings last Thursday. The posture of U.S. forces inside the airport has changed from security in a humanitarian relief crisis to an aggressively defensive posture for area security.
The advice about avoiding former U.S. government compounds and the airport because they will be bombed within 24 hours is of particular interest. It doesn’t make much sense for the U.S. to demolish Karzai airport with charges unless it was a threat made to the Taliban to keep them at bay until after the last plane departs. We also question whether U.S. government buildings in Kabul and outside the airport could be destroyed without casualties to civilians.
We are concerned that the final date of U.S. withdrawal on August 31 creates an invitation for the Taliban, ISIS-K, or anybody else to shoot at the final departing aircraft from the airport. This would result in a final and humiliating mass casualty event for the United States. Man-portable anti-aircraft missiles from China (FN-6 Hongying) or the Russian 9k38 Ingla could be procured from Iran or Pakistan just for this purpose. We are also seeing local reports that activities within and above the airport, like Blackhawks and U-28s flying orbits around the perimeter, are greatly reduced. For these reasons, we believe that all U.S. forces will likely be evacuated from Afghanistan on Monday the 30 at the latest.
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