Most recently, the terrorist movement managed to seize the last standing northern province of Mazar-i-Sharif – a major centre of financial activity in the country. The Taliban* also took over Kandahar – the former capital of its caliphate, which existed prior to the US invasion in 2001.
When the US announced it would be withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, the ability of Kabul to withstand attacks from the Taliban* was among the key concerns of President Joe Biden. But the latter only downplayed these fears, arguing in July that the Afghan Army of 300,000 “well-equipped” soldiers and Air Force pilots could handle the threat of “something like 75,000 Taliban” militants. POTUS also stressed that the terrorist movement’s takeover of Afghanistan was not “inevitable”.
Fast forward four weeks, and the Taliban controls the majority, if not all, of the nation’s border. It has seized half of the country’s provinces, including the second and third-largest cities, Kandahar and Herat, and claims to be in charge of one of Afghanistan’s main radio stations, renaming it the “Voice of Sharia”. Some media reports suggest that the Taliban’s troops came within 50 kilometres of Kabul and that the US intelligence community fears it could be “isolated” in a matter of days.
Suddenly, the takeover of Afghanistan no longer sounds as unlikely as Biden claimed it to be in July. In a statement on 14 August, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani pledged that the…