lørdag 21. august 2021

Franz Marty: I was in Kabul when it fell to the Taliban. The speed of the collapse stunned me

I was on my way to the mountains of Nuristan in eastern Afghanistan when, on 8 August, the Taliban accelerated their offensive that would, a mere week later, sweep them into the presidential palace in Kabul. During the four days I spent in the mountains, the Taliban captured 10 out of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals in addition to the two they had already taken over on 6 and 7 August.

This happened often without a fight, resembling the fall of districts that took place in a first wave of Taliban advances between May and July. Footage on TV channels on 11 August showed police and army vehicles leaving the northern towns of Fayzabad and Pul-i Khumri in the darkness of night, only illuminated by ghostly headlights. The Nuristanis who hosted me and followed this news on TV had come to an arrangement with the Taliban. They had only recently overtaken the last tiny islands of government control in their remote home districts of Kamdesh and Barg-e Matal, but the Nuristanis were not jubilant. They were quiet. And concerned. It looked bad for the Afghan republic. The Nuristanis and a taxi driver in Kunar began to refer to the situation as an “enqelob” – revolution – a term that I hadn’t heard Afghans use before.