The words in the title are the words of Ahmad Massoud, the leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan. He wrote an open letter to the West a few days ago in the form of an opinion piece in The Washington Post. If you haven’t read it, you should do so. He vows to continue the fight against the Taliban and against radical Islamist terrorism. He asks for our help. He needs more weapons, more ammunition and more supplies.
After reading this letter and perusing some news reports, I wrote this earlier today. “The Taliban hold on Afghanistan isn’t near as tight as all the whiners and naysayers think. Organized resistance is gathering around Ahmad Massoud in the Panjshir Valley. Much of the Afghan SOF is there or going there including the 777th special mission wing with their Mi-17s and competent pilots. Several districts have already been recaptured by the local resistance. Anti-Taliban demonstrations are still taking place elsewhere. That takes real balls. India is 100% behind Massoud. Tajikistan will probably do the same. Massoud wrote a letter in the WaPo today asking for help. We should help them the Green Beret way, not the Pentagon way. I’ll write more tonight.”
Well, the sun has set several hours ago so I’ll expand upon my earlier comment. Our primary mission right now is to evacuate all those Americans and Afghans who need to be evacuated. To emphasize this point, the Biden administration is making preparations to compel major US airlines to help with the transportation of evacuees from Afghanistan, while expanding the number of US military bases that could house Afghans. The Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) got their warning order. If we want to successfully evacuate all those who need to be evacuated, we best keep the Taliban off balance. Massoud’s National Resistance Front offers the best option for doing just that. Besides his Tajik fighters who have already beaten every swinging dick who has attempted to take their Panjshir Valley homeland for generations, he has rallied much of the Afghan Special Operations Forces, including the 777th Special Mission Wing.
Amrullah Saleh, the Vice-President of Afghanistan, now the legitimate caretaker president of Afghanistan, and Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, Afghanistan’s defense minister are also with Massoud. Saleh is originally from Panjshir. Rashid Dostum’s 10,000 fighters, now led by his son Yar Mohammad Dostum, are also en route to Panjshir. In only the last few days, local resistance forces in nearby Baghlan province have recaptured Banu and Pol-e-Hesar districts from the Taliban leaving some 40 to 60 dead Talib fighters in their wake. Deh-e-Selah and Qasaan districts has also fallen to local forces.
These are people who not only want to fight, but know how to fight. All they need is some assistance. We should send Massoud several Special Forces Detachments to assist in providing the weapons, ammunition and supplies requested by Massoud. Coordinate close air support? Sure. Build up their indirect fire and transportation capabilities, as well. We can harken back to the early days of what became our Afghan misadventure when Green Berets rode on horseback with Massoud’s father. I would think no more than half a dozen teams are needed, supplemented only by the bare minimum of military technicians needed to provide logistical support. No contractors. No FOBs. No PX and no Starbucks or Burger King.
`Ensure that the Mi-17s of the 777th continue to fly and provide the ammunition and intelligence necessary for the 777th to provide air support to Massoud’s National Resistance. Send in whatever mechanics and aerial port specialists are needed to make this happen. Whatever we send in must have a small footprint. Avoid Pakistan. We don’t need to be beholden to anyone supporting the Taliban. Certainly India and probably Tajikistan would be willing to assist, but don’t ask for much. Keep our assistance light and don’t try to remake Massoud’s forces into something they are not. I’m certain they can do pretty damned well on their own if we give them the right support.
Russia’s stance seems to cover all the bases. Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Dmitry Zhirnov, praised the Taliban’s conduct in the days since its takeover, saying there was no alternative to the hardline Islamist group and resistance to it would fail. Those comments reflect Moscow’s efforts to deepen well-established ties with the Taliban while stopping short, for now, of recognizing them as Afghanistan’s legitimate government. Lavrov, on the other hand, acknowledged the resistance to the Taliban forming in the Panjshir Valley under Massoud and Saleh. Moscow just wants some semblance of stability in the region and doesn’t want Islamic extremism to spill into Central Asia. Although Zhirnov seems to have fallen in love with the Taliban, I sense that Lavrov would rather not see an unchallenged Taliban free to become hosts to Islamic extremists. Massoud’s National Resistance Front checking a total Taliban consolidation may be an acceptable solution for Moscow, especially if our footprint stays minimal.
No one’s going to make money with this plan. And that’s probably the most beautiful aspect of what I propose. That and the fact that everyone will see that we are not going to build a democratic country in Afghanistan with a half dozen SF teams. Although, in my opinion, if anyone could build a democratic nation, it would be a half dozen SF teams… if that’s what they set their minds to.
Right now the Taliban are posing as benign victors due to their rapid consolidation. If they are threatened in a legitimate way, expect them to drop their mask and go full Taliban. And that in itself could endanger the folks yet to be evacuated. Kabul 21 started off as Saigon 75 but has the potential to end as Tehran 79.
It is also easy to make the case that there is no ‘nation’ in Afghanistan. The buffer between the Bear and the Lion is no longer needed. The arc of western and northern Afghanistan linking Herat, Mazar, Kunduz and the Wakhan corridor can function better as a part of Iran and the Stans. The resulting Pashtun dominated rump state will be consumed more with the consolidation across the Durand line. It is sickening to pretend that the territorial integrity of Afghanistan is somehow sacred given what’s been done in Syria, Libya and elsewhere.
Perhaps this outcome will emerge on its own when Iran and Russia grow tired of the deception by Taliban. But the time has come to make deals with Russia and Iran to confront the greater evil here. All this if we care an iota about the women and children there whose case we pleaded for two decades. We may not have a footprint in the middle of Asia, but we can still do something to slay the abomination we birthed there during the Cold War.
Too late. BHL made a Hirsute Assessment and decided he didn’t have what it took. It’s over.
Here is some cell phone video footage from the resistance in Panjshir. Note the Northern Alliance flags. And the music, not allowed under the Taliban.
Three districts in Baghlan province just north of the Panjshir have also been liberated. That area has long been a haven for Nizari Ismailis hated by the Taliban – and of Salafis in other countries. If armed they will be formidable opponents. Aren’t they the descendants of the ‘Hashshashin’ who fought the Fatimids a thousand years ago?
I believe that Taliban rule is weak throughout all the northeast provinces. They captured Kunduz and Taloqan cities mainly by stealth. But have since committed atrocities there and are hated. There are claims on twitter that the Taliban governor of Kunduz has surrendered.
Somebody, someone, some entity, wants to humiliate the USA. Who are Obama, Hillary working for? Davos, China?
There was nothing accidental about leaving Bagram in the middle of the night nor the ensuing chaos. It was a perfectly orchestrated public humiliation to crash NATO and America’s reputation.
Anybody who thinks these things are accidents has been living a quiet life in front of a TV as our esteemed host is perfectly aware.
It’s about choosing the right moment to take back the country is it not?
Easier said than done with blanket surveillance.
Greetings from occupied France
Picking the “right moment” to take back Afghanistan is not the problem. The current American leadership doesn’t want to take back Afghanistan. I also believe that the Bagram disaster was not an accident. It was a deliberate desertion of massive equipment and imperil of American troops. Under any other time in American history it would be grounds for a courts martial for the CIC. Admit it, we have enemies on Pennsylvania Ave. This is a seminal moment for America.
Yes, create an abscess of fixation.
Focus the Taliban’s attention on that. Make them devote a significant portion of their resources. Exhaust them. For the guerrillas, keep their hopes up. It cannot win. Its success will be to hold on for the long haul. No journalists, no headlines. Will the US and the West be able to secure that? Reaching the Panshir from outside assumes a rear base (logistic albeit minimal and medical support) not too far away and a protected air space. India seems perfect. China’s neutrality is likely. Another imperative: to be able to dismantle the operation with discretion. Always deny. That’s what diplomats are for.
It would be necessary to know if the band of savages, the Taliban, are capable of civilizing themselves. If so, the fixation risks radicalizing them and leading to a rise to extremes. We can only know by trying.
Only Tajikistan with Russian blessings can make this support happen. Between India and NE Afghanistan lies the heavily defended airspace of Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir.
Bigger picture is Russia and China under the umbrella of the SCO and eventually BRI will manage Afghanistan. Iran has been upgraded to a full member. This convergence is for the single benefit of keeping the US out. India is the odd man in SCO, but as long as the Jihadi fervor does not spill over in an unmanageable way, it can live with the arrangement.
There is no civilizing or further radicalizing the Taliban. They are a pendulum stuck at one extreme. Their cohesion and strength comes from their unwavering commitment to following their scripture literally and more thoroughly than any of their fellow believers.
Thank you for your information.
It seems that all the Stans have been locked by Russia and its organizations in Central Asia. Could we hijack at least one country? The region has governments and allegiances that are not very firm or durable. Only immediate interest guides them with a tendency to outbid the buyer. One can assume that these carpetbaggers are accessible to corruption. This is an observation, not a criticism. It’s hard to make a case on these rotten boards.
The South is more attractive, so anti-Taliban India. The distance between Massoud-son and North India is about 1200 km, skirting the Chinese border to avoid the Pakistani sky.( 1200km*2 and 5000-8000m peaks…) Nothing impossible for a properly equipped air force, and it is not an airlift anyway. Maintenance and ammunition for light weaponry, no more.
If China does not turn a blind eye, maintaining a guerrilla war seems difficult in the long run. Perhaps a little understanding about their Uyghurs issues would help. After all, the two issues, Taliban and Uyghur, are symmetrical.
If we are lucky, China will have forgotten the same operation carried out by the CIA in Tibet in the years 1950-196X, India already serving as a rear base.
“No one’s going to make money with this plan.” That is why it won’t happen.
Ah! A Marxist.
Then, now, it is no more the US nation-builder, but the Green Berets?
This is an unknown actor in this endevour to date…
By which means/methods?
May be you should awake to the harsh reality…?
Ah, a Spaniard in Madrid with no guts. WE make reality.
No contractors. No FOBs. No PX and no Starbucks or Burger King.
No more stirring the Afghan pot.
No more squandering our finite resources on quixotic quests.
No more American lives sacrificed thousands of miles from home.
Let Afghan’s hash things out amongst themselves for better or worse.
Ah, someone from New York City.
I am totally cool with this plan. Let’s airdrop whatever they ask for as long as no one whines about how we gifted more weapons to the Taliban.
We will need better general officers than the ones who created this situation.
Although I agree we need better general officers, they are not material to this plan to assist Massoud. That falls to SF NCOs and WOs along with a few SF captains, maybe a major. Everyone else should sit down, shut up and let the pros handle this.
I agree, however if we don’t have at least a couple decent ones this plan will never see the light of day.
KABUL, Afghanistan — U.S. helicopters have ferried 96 Afghans to the Kabul airport for evacuation, signaling that U.S. military flights are taking place beyond the airport perimeters in the Afghan capital. Senior American military officials told The Associated Press that an American CH-47 Chinook helicopter picked up the Afghans, mostly women and children, and ferried them to Hamid Karzai International Airport on Friday. U.S. Army’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division airlifted the Afghans from Camp Sullivan, near the Kabul airport.
The officials say sorties like this one have been underway for days as Afghans seek to flee the country taken over by the Taliban. Intelligence teams inside Kabul are helping guide both Americans and Afghans and their families to the airport or are arranging for them to be rescued by other means. For those living in other cities and provinces outside Kabul, CIA case officers, special operation forces and agents from the Defense Intelligence Agency on the ground are gathering U.S. citizens and Afghan nationals who worked for the U.S. at pre-determined pick-up sites.
The officials would not detail where these airlift sites were for security reasons. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss ongoing operations.
—James La Porta in Boca Raton, Florida.
I don’t think many of you can fathom just how excited and proud I was as I read this report this morning. I was punching the air in unbridled joy. SOF operating outside the wire. Of course. DIA officers out there with them. Hell, yes! Those are my boys. I’d like to think we’d be doing this with or without official approval. The lack of that approval has not stopped us in the past. We just keep it to ourselves… forever. But these are officially sanctioned rescue operations in Afghanistan. Good. Damned good.
Hopefully the Marines brought some Ospreys with them as they can reach the outer areas better than the Chinooks. Good to hear the SOF and DIA are shaking the trees.
Ospreys and chinooks are great big slow targets, flying mass casualty events, no thanks.
There were social media photos of at least one Osprey a week ago.
Good on ’em. They’ve kept these ops quiet up until now. Probably to keep the Taliban in the dark to forestall bad reactions.
“If anyone could build a democratic nation it would be a
Half dozen SF teams “
Did we learn anything in the last twenty years? I read
There are 400 plus tribes/clans in Afghan. Inter tribal
And within tribal conflict is a historical reality. How then
Could a federal type system work?
So Barry Sadler leading a reconstituted John Wayne group
(68) and a George Peppard/Mr. T A team through the
Rugged mountain terrain is the plan? Cigars and hubris
The order of the day.
That last statement is mostly proud bravado. I knew somebody was going to get their panties in a bunch over it. However, I do think SF could advise a people into a workable system of self-government if they set out to do so. They could build bridges, airfields and hospitals, too. Even keep the flocks and herds healthy.
Ah, Minneapolis. What a surprise!
TTG- Your account of what’s going wrong in Afghanistan, and if there’s any way of putting it right, brought back some memories. In Syria too the conflict was with brutal and tribal fundamentalist Islam. I had some contrarian thoughts on that at the time. Still do and your article above made me sketch them out. Bin them, please do, if they’re not appropriate or relevant. They are merely thoughts of an onlooker who’s never been in the environment you and so many others on the Colonel’s site have direct experience of.
Your account, oddly enough, took me back to Dabiq. I could never make “Dabiq” out. It looked too slick, too professional, to have been beamed up from a satellite phone in some grimy Jihadi hellhole. And though it was incendiary enough it wasn’t as brutal, as direct, as the usual material. In the editions I saw there was no burning of heretics in iron cages, no “Christians to the Lebanon, Alawi to the sea”. It consisted more of serious exhortation, and exposition of the niceties of Sharia law.
I can’t reread it now to check whether these remembered impressions are correct. It’s gone. That was another thing I couldn’t make out. It was before the days when sites suddenly disappeared but it was odd nevertheless, even then, to see a direct Jihadi call to arms lying around on the computer screens of the West for any casual reader to access.
A good deal of material from back then has gone. The best account I came across of how we and a host of other countries sent weapons and Jihadis across the Turkish frontier was in a documentary part funded, strangely enough, by the BBC. I noted it, even linked to it in a comment submitted a while back to the Colonel’s site, but thought naively it would remain up for ever. It went quite recently.
That vanished documentary connects to Dabiq because our Western Jihadi recruits would have been drawn by just the message Dabiq was sending out. A later scene in the documentary showed recruits from several countries ceremoniously burning their passports as they rejected the softer doctrines of the “moderate rebels” and headed out to join the real thing. ISIS.
One of them was a young German boy, echt deutsch and very serious, who explained how he found the practice of the Al Qaeda offshoot he’d first joined too corrupt, too compromised, and how he felt he’d find the true path in the sterner doctrine that ISIS offered.
I often wonder about that young German boy. Whether he survived and got back home safely, whether he’s lying dead somewhere, or whether he’s even now holding to the truer faith in the killing grounds of Idlib or the Eastern desert.
So, Dabiq. May have been fake. Could have been put out or assisted by our own for all I know. But fake or not, misleading or not, it appealed to something true in the radicalised youth who read it. They were not, nor all the tribesmen for whom radical Islam had such appeal, the primitive headchoppers of stereotype. They were many of them, as that young German boy was for sure, looking for a better way of living than the West could offer them. They were looking for a truer God than ours. Unless we recognise that and respect it I doubt we shall ever defeat them.
Unless we find a truer God ourselves I doubt we have a right to. Given the choice between the stern certainties Dabiq was, if only ostensibly, appealing to and the vacuous tenets of progressive Western man, can we blame some for choosing another path?
“I often wonder about that young German boy. Whether he survived and got back home safely”
I really hope he didn’t, those European convert-jihadis are treated far too softly, more like teenage delinquents than the traitors and war criminals they are.
There are some disturbing insinuations in a recent article by Rod Dreher:
” I have been out for most of the day. This morning I heard from a couple of well-informed sources about particular Taliban atrocities that have not yet been made public. These are the kinds of things that bring tears to your eyes. One of them in particular I cannot stop thinking about. It is one of the worst things you can imagine. These will all become public soon — I am not authorized to write about them…
I know, this post is out there even for me. But I can’t get out of my head the fates of these Americans left behind by our idiotic withdrawal strategy. You’ll be hearing soon about what happened to them. It cries to heaven for … well, if not vengeance, then at least some sort of accountability.”
That’s a different question but it is of course one that also arises.
You say –
“I really hope he didn’t (survive), those European convert-jihadis are treated far too softly, more like teenage delinquents than the traitors and war criminals they are.”
But those who assisted in supplying them with weapons, spent hundreds of millions supporting their activities, and in some cases were instrumental in inserting them? And that’s just the UK. The French were also heavily involved and also I believe the Germans.
Do they get the” traitor and war criminal” treatment too?
On your other point, atrocities are committed in all wars and where irregulars are involved those atrocities are many and vicious.
That in no sense excuses them; but given your own country set the carnage in Yugoslavia off, and was directly involved in bringing into play and supporting the Ukrainian neo-Nazis who also committed atrocities wholesale, please consider whether those are crocodile tears you’re shedding.
EO, would you specify your allusions in the last paragraph. Germany set off the carnage in Yugoslavia? Brought into play and supported the Ukrainian neo-Nazis.
Assuming you don’t have the 40s in mind.
‘fraid so, LeaNder. Not back then. Recent past. If you want to research the use made of the Galician neo-Nazis forget about Nuland et al. The spotlight’s been shone on them enough. Look at the activities of the Merkel/Ashton crowd.
On the current debacle here’s something you and I can agree on. The various European politicians, UK politicians to the fore I regret to say, are busy heaping all the blame on anyone but themselves. This, however, reached a new low –
“It’s not as if we forced then to work with us”, they say of the Afghan assistants they’re leaving behind. How poor spirited. Shall you write to the Verteidigungsministerium to tell them off or shall I?
Ok, I would expect you are able to provide me some more evidence, from within the PBS connect context? Why not? No?
Still missing supportive evidence concerning the neo-Nazi Ukrainian allusion.
“That in no sense excuses them; but given your own country set the carnage in Yugoslavia off”
That’s nonsense, and tbh I don’t think one should shed any tears for old Yugoslavia, Croats and Slovenians were justified in breaking free from that construct.
I agree that the role of some Western states in Syria (notably the UK) has been extremely negative, but that doesn’t really affect my opinion about Western convert-jhadis. Western governments should tell Syrian state officials and the Kurds that they should just dispose of those people if they capture them, but of course they’re not doing that, because their priorities in this conflict are so totally warped.
On Croatia, this gives a little of the background and is as good a place as any to start from –
On your other point we’re at loggerheads. You say ” Western governments should tell Syrian state officials and the Kurds that they should just dispose of those people if they capture them,”
Call me a softy but I can’t agree. And on a practical level, you want to create a heap of martyrs?
When it comes to putting things right in Syria generally, if that can be done, the Russian notion, of reconciliation teams seemingly wandering around Syria en masse and keeping the lid on things, looks a better bet.
You remember Major Steuber? I think he’d have liked to have been part of an effort like that in Afghanistan –
Ok, EO, Germany’s early recognition of Croatia was what triggered the Balkan Wars. Is that your argument. … My personal opinion on that don’t matter here.
But I surely would be interested in your larger butterfly-wing theory, beyond Balkan events.
Ukrainian neo-Nazis surfacing decades later, equally an event triggered by the Germans?
Still would be pleased about your evidence on that issue.
Unfortunately the incompetent buffoons running the Pentagon and the anti-American weasels around Joe dementia can’t even conceive such an elegant solution.
Where were all these instant fighters in the last 6 months when the Taliban was running wild?
TV By the Bidonians, the generals and the Borg. They new better.
Fourteen million persons out of an Afghanistan population of thirty-nine million are going to starve to death in the next fifty days if organizations such as the UN Food Agency/ World Food Program or even the IFRC are not allowed to send large convoys carrying food/water/ medicine into the desperately afflicted areas. Thousands of hostages could die as well. The evacuation–as big as Dunkirk– needs to be extended and redesigned.
I would suggest new talks, quickly resolved, perhaps back at Doha. One solution might be Red Cross/Red Crescent convoys of forty or more vehicles which would discreetly carry SOP teams and be well-armed, as well as carrying their own staff from the world’s benevolent empire. These convoys would be plainly marked and carry the flags of the Red Crescent Society.
They would accomplish two things that I think both sides would agree on. Feed some folks; get some folks out. And spend plenty of money. Afghanistan was going to get this money anway, and a generous one-time deal, including even some wide-scale bribery, will do wonders.
I don’t actually think the Taliban have much choice.
Good bargaining points. Samantha Power should be right on this, since she wants to make up for what she felt was a very inadequate US response in Rwanda.
It was the UN. was it not. who finally got many out of Rwanda under their time of extreme duress. Where are Biden foreign policy advisors Susan Rice and Samantha Powers these days, anyway. Or are they now too busy lawyering up against the Durham investigation?
UN, Red Cross, Red Crescent or any other well-funded humanitarian operation casting about in Geneva, who is eager to put their mission statement into action.
Samantha Power, who at the UN received instructions on how the USA was to vote on Russian membership on the human rights council, ignored her boss – the msn who was elected president – and did what she knew was better. That attitude, along with “open borders “, is rife throughout the Biden administration.
This is interesting, Fred.
I admittedly was somewhat confused about US discussion concerning the Lady’s UN performance and my own inner reflections as a result of her public performances, to some extent based on her resume/CV, no doubt.
Although, admittedly, I cannot pretend I was a fan of her Trump government successor either. Ideological warri0r vs dutiful servant? From the little imagery that inspires my comment here.
Did ‘servant’* in the larger context of cool-aiders ever make sense in our present societies?
You don’t get it. Obama let her get away with flagrant contempt with the office of president, and with him personally.
Ok fair enough, Fred.
Although, if I may to put it slightly polemically:
“Too much had happened since I arrived at the U.N. not to vote my conscience,” Power writes in her book The Education of an Idealist .
I guess I have yet to meet someone privately who in US politics founded his/her career on Idealism only. 🙂
You avoid my admittedly vague, somewhat implicit question concerning Nikki Haley’s UN performance. 😉
Yes she’s a good little utopian who doesn’t have to live her values in any nation she gets to impose them on. Nikki is just a duplicitous snake.
I don’t know if you follow M K Bhadrakumar’s writings on Afghanistan, but his latest piece concerns the Panjshir rebels and Russia’s interests in the situation. Bhadrakumar had diplomatic posts in the FSU, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan over 3 decades. He has a dim view of Indian diplomacy in the region and of the Panjshir rebels’ prospects. He thinks they’ll come to an accommodation with the Taliban.
I agree that, at some point, the Taliban and the tribes of the Panjshir Valley will come to some kind of accommodation. I think a lot depends on the ability or inability of the Taliban to accept the diversity of Afghanistan. If they insist on 100% fundamentalist rule over all, they’re in for a lot of trouble.
David Habakkuk recently offered a piece by Anatol Lieven on the subject of governing Afghanistan. Lieven pointed out that governing from Kabul required a very hands off approach. The locals wanted their autonomy. If they wanted advice or help from Kabul, they would ask for it. Beyond that, the government in Kabul should stay out of their business. I don’t know if the Taliban can live with that kind of approach.
The Russian ambassador in Kabul is clearly enthralled with the Taliban and sees their iron rule as the key to stability. I think he’s wrong. A drive toward Taliban iron rule over all Afghani peoples is a guarantee for further unrest and resistance. I have no idea if Moscow is fully behind their ambassador in this. They clearly want this to become a quiet corner of the world.
Iran is going to step in, once again. Shah Masoud was aligned with Iran to defeat the Taliban once, and now the next of kin will stand again.
All of our problems in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan could have been solved with one phone call to Soleimani had Israel not stood in the way. Soleimani’s replacement has special expertise in Afghanistan. Watch closely.
the wakhan corridor linking China and Afghanistan is the next hotspot./The northern alliance based in the panjshir Valley is the strategic move to control the route into Afghanistan from China via the
karakoram highway in Northern china
I believe it was either you or Col. Lang who suggested sometime back that a good strategy would have been to use military teams to teach villagers how to defend their villages and tribal ancestral property.
Now I get why Petraeus, et al and the Pentagon brass and the politicians wouldn’t be too enthralled as the gravy train wouldn’t have too many cars. But….why couldn’t they have written themselves the big checks and followed a path that would have been more appropriate for the land, the people and their culture?
I don’t know if you saw that 2015 interview of Gen. Durrani who was the head of Pakistani ISI. the Pakistani military clearly played a big role in fostering and sustaining Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Of course it is a legacy of Gen. Zia’s role in funneling Saudi & American cash and material to the islamists in Afghanistan. What’s the strategy for this nuclear-armed, trouble-making country run by the Generals even if they’re not nominally the head of state who are knee-deep in with jihadi movements?
Of course Pakistan was and is in support of Taliban rule in Afghanistan. They want a secure northern front against Indian adventurism. We needed Pakistan’s overland supply routes to support our massive footprint in Afghanistan so we turned a blind eye to Pakistan’s support of the jihadis.
Iran may send in help to protect the Hazara. Nine Hazara were murdered in Ghazni province by the Taliban in July including a 75 year old. Some were reportedly tortured to death. Hazara homes were looted.
But I’m not sure Iran wants to help Massoud. The Iranian border is over 600 miles from the Panjshir Valley. Although they may – in the video TTG placed at the top of the thread sitting next to Massoud is a prominent Hazara leader Muhammad Mohaqiq. He is the one sitting next to Massoud’s right hand in the blue tunic and blue/black plaid turban. He was educated in Iran. And he fought with the Northern Alliance in the late 90s. So what is he doing there now? Has he joined the National Resistance Front? Did he bring troops to the Panjshir like Dostum claims to be doing? I suspect not as the protection of the Hazarajat is probably a bigger concern for him. Is he there to do joint planning, or is he acting on Tehran’s behalf? If the Iranians do support the Massoud’s NRF they will do it with the IRGC surreptitiously.
TTG – To your knowledge is the statement below accurate? It is from the twitter account of Amrullah Saleh, caretaker Prez & ally of Massoud.
‘Talibs have massed forces near the entrance of Panjshir a day after they got trapped in ambush zones of neighboring Andarab valley & hardly went out in one piece. Meanwhile Salang highway is closed by the forces of the Resistance. “There are terrains to be avoided”. ‘
I’ve seen several sources about the resistance in the Andarab Valley, where a Taliban district commander was killed along with 50 or so followers. But I understood that was done by locals from various villages in Baghlan province and not by Massoud’s Panjshir Resistance troops.
I’ve seen a number of reports of the destruction of the Doshakh bridge north of the Salang tunnel and the ambush of Taliban forces further south near Jibal Siraj. Taliban have been killed and captured. I have no idea if this is absolutely true and, if true, whether this was under the direction of the Massoud/Saleh or local anti-Taliban actions like the earlier uprisings in Baghlan province and Andarab Valley. If all this is done by local resistance rather than the Massoud/Saleh forces, it bodes well for the resistance. The interdiction of the Salang highway does limit Taliban options in any attack on the Panjshir Valley.
I will remind you that I am not an Afghan expert. I don’t speak any of the languages and have no access to privileged information. I was the chief of the Defense HUMINT Afghan Task Force for 7 months and learned how to sift through reports from the region. Beyond that, I’m in the same boat as everyone else here.
I’m no expert either. And have seven months less experience than you. It is damn hard to know what is going on there with OSINT. A lot of tweets coming out of there may well be wishful thinking or propaganda, the same for official press releases from both sides.
According to Reuters the Taliban reported that in Baghlan province the districts Bano, Deh Saleh, & Pul e-Hesar have been re-captured by the Taliban, and possibly also in the Andarab. Don’t know it it is true or not. But it is hard for farmers to stand up to heavy weapons. I doubt that they will ever forget. No matter how sweetly Baradah, Akhundzada, and their spokesmen talk about “serving the nation”, it is the low level leadership that is entering houses uninvited, beating people for playing music, smoking tobacco, not having the right beard, or no face covering for women. If that continues and if a Kandahari style fundamentalist Sharia is imposed on non-Pashtuns in the north there will be more uprisings. These guys remind me of the farmers at Lexington and Concord, or the Lithuanian Forest Brothers.
Romania and Bulgaria, who are both losing population, would be ideal re-settlement areas for global refugees – rich farm land, with many abandoned villages still containing sound housing and services infrastructure. They need to be brought into any Afghan refugee resettlement negotiations.
You have heard of the Ottoman Empire? The Romanians and Bulgarians have. IMO they have no desire to see minarets in their countries.
The land is empty, the old people have died and the secular young ones have moved on, and often out. Sense being enough silver crossing hands would be sufficient motivation to accept settlements.
I’d worry more about the Roma bedeviling anyone new coming in, than any former anti-Ottoman sentiments; but those are just my tourist impressions. Both countries seem like such wasted assets right now, particularly with the bull market for commodities.
Deap Anti-Ottoman sentiments are quite real. What you would worry about is irrelevant.
Ugh, is refugee resettlement really a mercantilist business to ensure populations of unfortunates are redistributed simply to more efficiently utilize under employed land? This sounds like a WEF promo message for treating “global refugees” as a-cultural units of labor, to be relocated strictly according to market forces. Culturally tone deaf globalism at its worst.
I thought it would be a way for refugees to start a new life, while being able to use existing but now vacant infrastructure. Westward ho.
“Sense being enough silver crossing hands would be sufficient motivation to accept settlements.”
Do you recommend 30 pieces or have some other valuation in mind?
Actually, Bulgaria has a sizable Turkish minority and some minarets, dating from Ottoman times. Even though Jivkov was expelling those amongst them who refused to change their names to Slavic names towards the end of his communist reign, most stayed or returned after the fall of communism.
But you are right, why should Bulgaria accept them? Even in Turkey there is currently widespread unease about Afghan refugees and Erdogan’s eagerness to at least settle some of them in Turkey.
Deap, it’s not just an aversion to minarets, although that’s a reason I didn’t think of. Like everyone else, they just don’t want refugees even if it means abandoned villages. I was in Bavaria when all the Ossies were flooding west. West Germans hated those East Germans flooding into their land. Lithuanians are having a fit now with all the refugees coming over from Belarus. This is after Lithuania took in two waves of Tatars in the distant past and they’re hemorrhaging their own population since regaining independence. Same here, as you know. I guarantee all these Afghan refugees are going to cause more of a stink than our leaving Afghanistan and, soon, Iraq in the years to come.
My short visit to both Bulgaria and Romania left. the impression they were both dying countries with a lot of outward migration, riddled by corruption and lost development funds so perhaps countries that might welcome newcomers if they brought with them productive skills. Colored by the myth of land seeking pioneers to our own “empty land” in the US; or even the welcoming to make the desert bloom by pluck and hard work in newly formed Israel.
Wouldn’t an operation like you suggested lead to blowback, in the sense that it would give all the reasons in the world to unify the Taliban, ISIS-K, Al-Qai’da and a host of other terrorist groups to retaliate? I don’t think this is a wise course of action at this point. Let Russia, India, China, Iran, heck even Pakistan deal with Taliban. I just don’t get it why would it be wise to re-involve and commit to covert ops against the Taliban. I mean, I know that this whole Afghanistan withdrawal may have been a deliberate poke in the eyes of the military by the ‘woke’ State Dep. and the Biden admin to make the military look bad in future wars and put a lid on the active involvement of the Pentagon in the foreign policy conduct, but hey is this gonna be a wise thing to do down the line? I don’t know because I’m a little skeptic on this one.
We’re already the sworn enemy of all those jihadis. We’re not going to piss them off any further. If it ever comes to losing the Special Forces soldiers hypothetically sent to the Panjshir Valley, no one will care except their SF brethren and the Afghanis they died for.
I understand your logic, but my issue is with the timing and the value of this. The situation is a hot potato issue that everybody is passing to the other side. The IC has said “we told you so months ago!”, the State ‘leaked’ an internal memo conveying the same message, Millie’s been suspiciously weak (deliberate or not, I don’t know or shilling for the IC and the State, again I can’t tell), Kirby seems out of tune with what’s going on, and Blinken and Sullivan too are not doing any better. It is a classic blame game now and everybody is trying to make it look like it was all the fault of the DoD, and to a minor degree the IC.
Given the fact that the structure and the ‘nature’ of the local Afghan culture is so porous and ‘flexibile’ alligience-wise (to put it mildly) when it comes to fighting the Taliban which is basically one of their own, is it even worth it to invest in Massoud Jr et.al? You mentioned Dostum earlier, I mean he is notoriously known to be flip flopping character switching between factions and allegiances all his life which is actually a macrocosm of the Afghani culture. The same way he abandoned his estate/fort a week ago tells you a lot about who he is. Amrullah Saleh is neither popular/charismatic (like Massoud Jr.) or a fighter. Additionally he now has a big ass target on his back for his role as the internal security chief during which he created many local enemies against himself. Jr. too has been singing the ‘song’ of dialogue and peaceful resolution with the Taliban. I guarantee that he wouldn’t mind accepting a deal with the Taliban to gain political power and leave resistance. Trust me TTG, it is not worth it and the timing is terrible.
Richard Grenell concludes it is Susan Rice pulling the strings for her former Obama administration underlings: Blinken and Haines, and calling it Biden policy:
Want our support? Attack the Chinese and Russian Embassies in Kabul. Sever the heads of Belt and road contractors and post em on YouTube. Balkanize the Pashtuni territory from Pakistan and Baluchistan from Iran. Support the Uighurs
Who the hell are you talking to?
I wonder what the Russian and Chinese policies are in regard to Massoud? They certainly don’t want jihadis of any stripe moving North and/or troubling OBOR.
I also wonder if those “polite men in green” – Spetsnaz might not already be involved, or aren’t they capable of doing the hearts and minds stuff? In addition, how do we know SF aren’t already deployed in that area?
Someone should also point out to “condottiere” that there is such a thing as blowback.
My Focus is on China..in this matter…..They are the Nation Acting the Most Aggressive..Talking Most about Domination and War…They have been busy building Yellow Brick Roads ,,and Railroads..and Buying up governments and Assets..everywhere…N.S.E.W…..They are well Positioned in Pakistan…with Ports and Hiways…to make this Final Move directly into Afghanistan (As Pre Planned) and Finally Get The Airports and American Equipment ..They Longed for…Thier main Asset..has been the OBAMA BIN BIDEN co-operation..Interrupted by POTUS Trump…who had to be Defeated..or None of this would Have played out for China..Other Flags will fall..This War is being Won by Psy Ops…and Court Marshal Level Offenses …
Democrats and their Hollywood values, according to Daily Mail:
1. Barry Soetoro leaves Americans to die because he was afraid of a Blackhawk Down moment before his 2012 election.
2 Joe Biden leaves Americans to fend for themselves in Afghanistan because he is afraid of a Blackhawk Down moment.
Please, please tell me this is a fake quote from our currently globe-trotting VP Kamala Harris:
……“The stories that we are now hearing about the caution that if you want to have Christmas toys for your children, it might now be might be [sic] the time to start buying them, because the delay may be many, many months,” she (Harris) said.
“So across the board, people are experiencing the issue. And, of course, the climate crisis is fueling a lot of this. When we look at the stronger typhoons that have disrupted shipping lanes and sea level rise, which threatens port infrastructure as an example. So these are the many issues that are that are causing these disruptions,” Harris said……..”
Passionate intensity from the worst. If Harris really said that we may shortly be facing an apocalypse far more serious than climate change; Harris 47. Prepare yourself for wistful reminiscences of the Biden presidency. I can feel the gyre widening daily.
Just kidding, Babylon Bee speaks more truth in satire than ever comes out of the Biden WhiteHouse. Democrats unfurl their new flag: Tread On Me
TTG – Some major concerns with your plan:
1) Logistics. Ya cain’t get theyah from heeyah. At least not without going through or over some big countries that probably wouldn’t agree with the plan.
1a) Close Air Support: based where?
2) Wiki says population of Panjshir Province is about 173K, in 512 “villages”. IMO, it’s just too small to hold out long.
3) the big one: Why? What’s the National Interest which makes this worth doing? What’s the long-term plan?
Elkern, we’ve gotten into worse places than this. The GBs and initial supplies could go in by MC-130. Follow on logistics would be air dropped or flown in by M1-17, most likely, from Tajikistan. There are no airports in the Panjshir Valley. The Tajiks have already expressed their support for Massoud’s resistance. What little CAS that would be employed could be refueled drones, AC-130s or B-52s. That stuff ought to be used sparingly anyways. Otherwise, we’d just end up bombing farm houses and weddings again.
It’s not just population. It’s the terrain and the lack of LOCs. Massoud has up to 10,000 fighters. The Taliban has 75,000 for the entire territory of Afghanistan. That 75,000 has to control a population of 38 million. And millions of those don’t want Taliban control. Hazara leaders have already expressed sympathy for Massoud over the Taliban.
Why? That is a good question. My first thought was to serve as a disruptive operation to keep the Taliban from concentrating against our evacuation. However, it appears the Taliban have no real intention of trying to take on Massoud militarily. They are negotiating. With absolute minimal support, maybe only some largely symbolic airdrops, we strengthen Massoud’s negotiating position. I would say the long term goal is to prevent a total consolidation of the truly hard core Taliban over all Afghans. It would be better for all, if the Haqqani and friends, and that includes the ISI, were not in absolute control.
I believe key to Massoud the elder’s ability to hold that valley pre-2001 was the Taliban’s air power at that time being precisely zero. The fighters can scatter and hide in caves but their people can’t live like that. We should consider, after the evacuation, taking out the few ANA air assets left behind.
The Taliban will find mechanics and pilots for them, given time. Even a minimal ground attack capability could prove devastating for the villages of the panjshir valley.
Massoud the elder defended the valley against the Russians and their Hinds with our stingers. Any potential future Taliban air power will not be a real threat. Taking out the remaining ANA air assets is one approach, but I think it would be counterproductive. More US bombing is really not what we need. The aircraft we left behind are no threat to us.
Makes sense, in a gaming-it-out kinda way; hypothetical scenarios are important. However, I don’t think we could depend on air bases in Tajikistan for long; SCO would quash that. And all other options are too far away AND require flying over States that wouldn’t approve. We don’t have many “friends” in that part of the world these days.
Frankly, I hope our political leaders don’t try it; IMO, it’s time to just bug out & leave the whole mess for China & Russia to [try to] clean up.
I agree that my plan doesn’t appear to be necessary at this point. Massoud and the resistance already have the Taliban negotiating. It would be much better if this is resolved without our further involvement. But, f I was in charge, I would still send a survey team in to make contacts, assess exact needs and make plans in case we do throw our lot in with Massoud.
India is also SCO and they are firmly embedded in Tajikistan. I think we can get in if we really needed to. The initial support to Massoud the elder was by pack horses over the Hindu Kush. SF should still be trained in that. I was.
Latest I heard was that the Taliban was trying a three-pronged approach to put down Massoud’s restistance:
– blockade the valley to starve them out & prevent resupply of wpns & ammo;
– continue small scale attacks to bleed off Massoud’s ammo & weaken defenders.
If they were going to try a large scale attack wouldn’t they move Haqqani’s Badri commandos up there, or the Red Unit? But I suspect those groups are too busy at Kabul Airport facilitating ISKP and/or al-Q suicide attacks.
I have a different approach.
Extend a hand of friendship to the Taliban.
Recognize their Islamic Emirate as the legitimate, de facto, government of Afghanistan.
Unfreeze the financial assets of the previous government.
Support their joining the U.N. General Assembly.
Drop all the sanctions horseshit.
Provide them some economic aid to ease their financial distress.
(Hey, how much did we provide the previous government, and how much of that vanished into corruption?
I believe the Taliban are going to be a hell of a lot less corrupt, and much more moral, than the previous government was.)
Establish a mutual relationship based in non-interference:
You run your country the way you want to; we won’t interfere.
But if you mess with us, there will be hell to pay.
On the economic front, a win-win situation can be established.
They need income-producing jobs.
We need rare-earth minerals for various high-tech devices.
They have those raw materials in abundance.
We, presumably, have the technology and know-how to extract those minerals from the Afghan earth.
Why not establish a joint partnership where they mine the materials, and we pay them a decent fee for their efforts?
That would give them something to do besides the opium trade.
And again, I think those austere, hyper-religious figures are going to be far less susceptible to corruption (and immorality) than Afghan’s previous ruling class.
Who is going to oppose the above approach?
Those who want permanent conflict with conservative Muslims in the Muslim world.
I need to clarify one thing.
I don’t know who the different factions are who are lumped together as Taliban.
I just don’t think we should lump together all Taliban as bad just because their worldview is not that of, say, the Washington Post editorial page.
We need to encourage the more moderate elements within their coalition some carrots, not just come at them with sticks.
(Of course, this may be hopelessly naive.)
It IS hopelessly naive. You don’t seem to understand that jihadis ARE NOT “conservative Muslims.”
So you oppose my approach?
What is yours?
Continuing to oppose the Taliban with the methods I criticized in my original comment?
I have stated mine several times.
“Who is going to oppose the above approach?”
Me. Spend spend spend on ‘aid’ to help create a new Afghanistan, didn’t we just spend two decades and two trillion doing just that? How many mines got dug with how much corporate money to get at any of that alleged ‘trillion dollars’ of rare minerals? Zero comes to mind. Feel free to use your own money, like Bezos and Musk do on their space ventures.
Keith, that’s an absolutely terrible idea. The Taliban are a minority. We should not be kissing up to them or giving them any of the funds that belong to all the Afghan people. The Taliban may produce a less corrupt government, although I have my doubts with the Haqqani Network in the mix. Even if the Taliban speak for all Pashtuns, which I doubt, they do not speak for the Tajiks, Hazaras and others. If they all negotiate themselves into a loose Islamic Emirate, fine. But as far as helping the Taliban establish this on their terms, I wouldn’t piss on them if their hair was on fire. And I don’t give a rat’s ass about their minerals.
The SIGAR reports of the past 20 years represent a wealth of candid, if shocking, information made available to specialists, journalists as well as the general public.
Speaking to dozens of journalists as well as UN, EU and sundry NGO executives over the years, I have yet to find one of these individuals that knows about, let alone has read, any of these reports.
Too and although tangentially related, none of these individuals knows or has read any of the UNODC reports of the past 20 years.
To believe that we could now achieve a different result if we would just go back into Afghanistan, one more time, whether or not with SFs teams or anyone else, is, at best unreasonable.
The more than US$2Trillion spent on this adventure and the Trillions more spent in similar adventures in that general geographic area, not only went to enrich the military industrial complex but, significantly and deliberately, it also went to finance and richly reward the obscurantist and sanguinary dreams of a petty, venal, arrogant people uniquely devoted to reject intellectual evolution whilst obstinately intent on recreating a harsh form of religious/political feudalism.
If memory serves, one of the reasons, presumably the main reason, we went into Afghanistan this last time, was to find and arrest the head of Al Qaeada. The unaccounted Billions that flowed into that operation however quickly provided a reason for self perpetuation that required building the proverbial goal posts on the shifting sand dunes of the desert.
Potentially unrelated but, if true, interesting nonetheless. As a mere commoner, I cannot be sure. If memory serves however, I seem to remember that OBL was never on the FBI most wanted list?