The Taliban’s* sweeping advance, which has so far left only three big cities – Kabul, Jalalabad and Mazar-i-Sharif – in the hands of the Ashraf Ghani government has raised many eyebrows. The insurgents have taken roughly two thirds of Afghanistan as US servicemen are making efforts to secure an orderly withdrawal.
The speed of the Taliban’s* offensive was apparently accelerated by the NATO-trained Afghan military’s retreat as well as by reported capitulations and defections of some pro-government warlords and power brokers.
On 13 August, Mohammad Ismail Khan, 75, a former governor of Herat, who had headed resistance against the Taliban for weeks, was captured and surrendered to the insurgents. All government officials, including the governor, police chief, head of the NDS office, and the 207 Zafar Corps commander followed his suit, as TOLOnews, Afghanistan’s 24-hours news television network, reported on Friday.
The New York Times presumes that Ismail Khan’s capitulation could trigger a domino effect among pro-government Afghan warlords, including Mohammed Atta Noor, who is trying to defend the economic hub of Mazar-i-Sharif.
Meanwhile, social media users are citing local sources alleging that Khan could have joined the Taliban’s ranks. It has also been rumoured on Twitter that he and other officials were sent to Kabul in a helicopter with a message for the Ghani government.
Yet another video…