Hundreds of Afghan government soldiers have fled the Taliban to the northern neighbouring country of Tajikistan since Saturday. In the northern Afghan province of Badachshan, the Taliban has held at least ten districts this weekend, most of them without fighting.
Many other Afghan soldiers have fled to the provincial capital Faizabad, but the fall of that city seems to be imminent as well. An aid agency employee tells the German news agency DPA that everyone is trying to get out of it as soon as possible.
Provincial administrators have also fled. According to a driver who did stay in his post, the morale among government forces and directors is low. Where it does come to combat, the Taliban would always be in the majority and have better equipment.
The departure of Western soldiers and the rapid rise of the Taliban have been causing panic in other parts of Afghanistan for a few days. Not only soldiers, civilians are fleeing too. The neighbouring countries Pakistan and Tajikistan are preparing for a large refugee flow.
On Friday, the Americans completed the evacuation of Bagram Air Force Base, 50 kilometres north of Kabul, which has been their main base for the past 20 years. President Biden announced the departure of all Americans as of September 11. In reality, it seems a matter of days for all Americans to be gone, except for the hundreds of soldiers left behind to guard the embassy in Kabul.
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The Taliban owns about a third of Afghanistans 421 districts. There seems to be no guarantee that no scenario will unroll like in Vietnam, where the Communists got their hands on the whole country two years after the last American troops left in 1975.
In Kabul, the nervousness is increasing, according to international news agencies. President Ghanis government is virtually invisible. According to Western diplomats, Ghani lives in a sham world and confidence in the corrupt Afghan administration has fallen to a low.
Ghanis highest security adviser acknowledges that the government forces did not expect the Taliban offensive, but states that the military will “absolutely and certainly” counterattack. What that should look like was not clear.
A Taliban spokesman told the BBC today that conquering Kabul is “not a Taliban policy,” but also warned that the Taliban will not tolerate Americans or other foreign soldiers left behind in the Afghan capital.