US

Afghan Ambassador urges Biden to launch air strikes amid fears Kabul will fall within 30 days

Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United States has urged President Joe Biden to launch air strikes on the Taliban amid fears Kabul could fall within 30 days.

Adela Raz also asked that the United States and its allies reimpose travel bans on Taliban leaders and other sanctions in comments to News Nation amid U.S. frustration at Afghan forces’ inability to fight-off the extremist group. 

Responding to Defense Department Press Secretary John Kirby’s claim that it was no longer feasible for the US to offer air support to Afghan forces, Raz said: ‘But it is s feasible because you did that. You did that post-9/11 and it you took control of the entire country in 2 weeks.’ 

She highlighted how there has never been an example of a government making peace with a terrorist group, and warned the US not to assume that political negotiations with the Taliban would yield positive results.

Alluding to her desire for continued military support, Raz said: ‘We have to be also cautions that should not put all our eggs in one basket.’

She said that her own family members are currently joining the fight against the Taliban, adding: ‘I’m assuming that there would be a political solution. We have to prepare for the possibility. What if that is no political solution? I’m not for war. I grew up in war. I lost my relatives. I don’t want it.

‘I think for every Afghan it’s difficult we don’t advocate for war. But there is a time we need to defend the country and ourselves.’  

Taliban fighters could isolate Afghanistan‘s capital in 30 days and possibly take it over within 90, a U.S. defense official said citing intelligence reports as the resurgent militants made more advances across the country.

The Taliban, who ruled the country from 1996 until U.S. forces invaded after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, captured three more provincial capitals on Wednesday – giving them effective control of about two-thirds of the country.

The insurgents have no air force and are outnumbered by U.S.-trained Afghan defense forces, but they have captured territory with stunning speed. The Taliban wants to defeat the U.S-backed government and reimpose strict Islamic law.

‘If I talk about the fall of Kabul, then I’m shattering my hopes,’ Raz told News Nation.

The Afghan Ambassador to the United States has urged President Joe Biden to launch air strikes on the Taliban amid fears Kabul could fall within 30 days

Ambassador Adela Raz also asked that the United States and its allies reimpose travel bans on Taliban leaders and other sanctions

Ambassador Adela Raz also asked that the United States and its allies reimpose travel bans on Taliban leaders and other sanctions

Military officials watching the deteriorating situation said that, so far, the Taliban hasn’t taken steps to threaten Kabul. But it isn’t clear if the Taliban will wait until it has gained control of the bulk of the country before attempting to seize the capital. 

Raz said the ‘quick’ withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan has ‘created consequences’ in her country. The U.S. is set to complete the withdrawal of ground troops by the end of the month, formally ending its role in the war. 

The level of remaining air support is ‘extremely limited,’ Raz said as she called for the United States to once again increase its air support. As Commander-in-Chief, President Biden could continue to provide air support to the country.

Defense Department Press Secretary John Kirby told the outlet that providing air support will not always be ‘feasible’ but that the U.S. ‘will continue to support them with air strikes.’

Kirby told reports on Wednesday that the Afghans still have time to save themselves from final defeat.

‘No potential outcome has to be inevitable, including the fall of Kabul,’ Kirby said. 

‘It doesn’t have to be that way. It really depends on what kind of political and military leadership the Afghans can muster to turn this around.’

He added: ‘The Afghan forces have the capability, they have the capacity, they have numerical advantage, they have an air force. It’s really going to come down to the leadership and the will to use those capabilities.’

Defense Department Press Secretary John Kirby said that providing air support will not always be 'feasible' but that the U.S. ' will continue to support them with air strikes'

Defense Department Press Secretary John Kirby said that providing air support will not always be ‘feasible’ but that the U.S. ‘ will continue to support them with air strikes’

US officials say Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani needs to unite his government and take tough decisions to fend off the advance of the Taliban

US officials say Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani needs to unite his government and take tough decisions to fend off the advance of the Taliban

The Afghan air force has been uploading videos showing attacks on Taliban fighters in an attempt to bolster morale and turn the tide of the war, with few battlefield victories to report

The Afghan air force has been uploading videos showing attacks on Taliban fighters in an attempt to bolster morale and turn the tide of the war, with few battlefield victories to report

Troops are seen lowering a U.S. flag during a handover ceremony in May, as the U.S. is expected to complete its withdrawal by the end of the month

Troops are seen lowering a U.S. flag during a handover ceremony in May, as the U.S. is expected to complete its withdrawal by the end of the month

Raz hit back at Kirby’s comments – claiming that continued air strikes remain feasible because the U.S. effectively used the strategy when taking control of the country in just two weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last month that the only method to attain ‘lasting peace’ in Afghanistan would be political – while President Biden said this week the country has to ‘fight for themselves.’

The failure of Afghan security forces to blunt the advance of the Taliban has left U.S. officials deeply frustrated after spending billions to train and equip the country’s military for two decades.

Biden and other officials have repeatedly called for Afghan leaders to unite and fashion a clear strategy amid mounting worries that the insurgents could besiege Kabul within months.

‘We spent over a trillion dollars over 20 years. We trained and equipped with modern equipment over 300,000 Afghan forces,’ Biden said Tuesday. ‘Afghan leaders have to come together. They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation.’ 

Taliban fighters stand along a road in the northern city of Kunduz that was captured by the Taliban on Monday

Taliban fighters stand along a road in the northern city of Kunduz that was captured by the Taliban on Monday

A man said to be a Taliban fighter fires his weapon towards where the body of a man was thrown at a location said to be Farah, Afghanistan, in this still image taken from an undated recent video obtained by Reuters

A man said to be a Taliban fighter fires his weapon towards where the body of a man was thrown at a location said to be Farah, Afghanistan, in this still image taken from an undated recent video obtained by Reuters

Men said to be Taliban fighters drag the body of a man on the ground at a location said to be Farah, Afghanistan, in this still image taken from an undated recent video obtained by Reuters

Men said to be Taliban fighters drag the body of a man on the ground at a location said to be Farah, Afghanistan, in this still image taken from an undated recent video obtained by Reuters

Raz shot back in comments to News Nation: ‘We have been fighting for ourselves and for the peace and security of the rest of the world. That we are doing, and we will do it to the last minute.’

The ambassador told News Nation that she is hesitant to believe that the country would have a peaceful path forward through political negotiations with the Taliban. 

‘I think the start of the negotiation was to come to a political solution. But we have to be also cautious that we should not put all our eggs in one basket,’ she said.

‘And assuming there would be a political solution, we have to prepare for the possibility: what if there is no political solution?’

Raz told News Nation that Afghanistan faces a humanitarian crisis while the country braces for escalating war. 

‘I think for every Afghan, because we don’t advocate for war, but there is a time we need to defend ourselves,’ Raz said.

The Taliban's rapid advance has seen them take control of almost two thirds of the country since President Biden announced the withdrawal of all remaining U.S. troops

The Taliban’s rapid advance has seen them take control of almost two thirds of the country since President Biden announced the withdrawal of all remaining U.S. troops

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the attacks by the Taliban were against the spirit of a 2020 agreement.

The Taliban committed to talks on a peace accord that would lead to a ‘permanent and comprehensive ceasefire,’ Price said on Wednesday. 

‘All indications at least suggest the Taliban are instead pursuing a battlefield victory,’ he said. ‘Attacking provincial capitals and targeting civilians is inconsistent with the spirit of the agreement.’ 

Afghan government forces are collapsing even faster than U.S. military leaders thought possible just a few months ago when Biden ordered the withdrawal. 

Biden has made clear he has no intention of reversing the decision and U.S. military leaders are not pushing him to change his mind. They know that the only significant option would be for the president to restart the war he already decided to end.

Carter Malkasian, who advised U.S. military leaders in Afghanistan and Washington, said it was his ‘strong suspicion’ that Biden’s August 31 deadline for pulling out of the country would hold.

People stranded at the Pakistani-Afghan border wait for its reopening after it was closed by the Taliban, who have taken over the control of the Afghan side of the border at Chaman, Pakistan on Wednesday

People stranded at the Pakistani-Afghan border wait for its reopening after it was closed by the Taliban, who have taken over the control of the Afghan side of the border at Chaman, Pakistan on Wednesday

Taliban fighters patrol Farah, Afghanistan on Wednesday

Taliban fighters patrol Farah, Afghanistan on Wednesday 

Taliban fighters stand guard at a check point in Farah, Afghanistan on Wednesday

Taliban fighters stand guard at a check point in Farah, Afghanistan on Wednesday

Thousands of displaced families suffer hardships in a park in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Wednesday. About 30,000 families have been displaced due to government and Taliban clashes in the northern provinces

Thousands of displaced families suffer hardships in a park in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Wednesday. About 30,000 families have been displaced due to government and Taliban clashes in the northern provinces

Internally displaced Afghan families, who fled from Kunduz, Takhar and Baghlan province due to battles between Taliban and Afghan security forces, sit inside their temporary tents at Sara-e-Shamali in Kabul on Wednesday

Internally displaced Afghan families, who fled from Kunduz, Takhar and Baghlan province due to battles between Taliban and Afghan security forces, sit inside their temporary tents at Sara-e-Shamali in Kabul on Wednesday

Internally displaced Afghan families are seen with young children amid the country's continued fighting

Internally displaced Afghan families are seen with young children amid the country’s continued fighting

Senior U.S. military officials cautioned Biden that a full withdrawal could lead to a Taliban takeover, but he decided in April that continuing the war was a waste.

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in early May that he foresaw ‘some really dramatic, bad possible outcomes’ in a worst-case scenario. He held out hope that the government would unify and hold off the Taliban.

Officials said that there has been no decision or order for an evacuation of American diplomatic personnel from Afghanistan. 

But one official said the U.S. should now have serious conversation on if the military should begin to move assets into the region to be ready in case the State Department calls for a sudden evacuation.

The military has long had various planning options for evacuating personnel from Afghanistan – but those would largely be determined by the White House and the State Department. 

Any plan would likely involve identifying U.S. troops, aircraft and other assets that may have to operate from within Afghanistan. American forces might even have to fight their way in to evacuate personnel from Kabul international airport if the Taliban infiltrate the city.

The U.S. also would have to determine who would be evacuated: just American embassy personnel and the U.S. military, or also other embassies, American citizens, and Afghans who worked with the U.S. 

Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in Kunduz city, northern Afghanistan on Monday. The militants have ramped up their push across much of Afghanistan in recent weeks, turning their guns on provincial capitals after taking district after district and large swaths of land in the mostly rural countryside

Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in Kunduz city, northern Afghanistan on Monday. The militants have ramped up their push across much of Afghanistan in recent weeks, turning their guns on provincial capitals after taking district after district and large swaths of land in the mostly rural countryside

A doctor, right, checks internally displaced children inside of their temporary tent at Sara-e-Shamali in Kabul on Wednesday

A doctor, right, checks internally displaced children inside of their temporary tent at Sara-e-Shamali in Kabul on Wednesday 

A Taliban flag is seen on a plinth with people gathered around the main city square at Pul-e-Khumri on Wednesday after Taliban captured Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan province north of Kabul

A Taliban flag is seen on a plinth with people gathered around the main city square at Pul-e-Khumri on Wednesday after Taliban captured Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan province north of Kabul

Afghans stand near a burnt car inside the city of Farah, capital of Farah province, southwest Afghanistan on Wednesday

Afghans stand near a burnt car inside the city of Farah, capital of Farah province, southwest Afghanistan on Wednesday

Taliban fighters are seen inside the city of Farah, capital of Farah province southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday

Taliban fighters are seen inside the city of Farah, capital of Farah province southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday

Internally displaced Afghan women from northern provinces receive medical care in a public park in Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday

Internally displaced Afghan women from northern provinces receive medical care in a public park in Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday

An Afghan National Army checks passengers at a checkpoint on the road near to the Bagram airfield in Kabul, Afghanistan in early July

An Afghan National Army checks passengers at a checkpoint on the road near to the Bagram airfield in Kabul, Afghanistan in early July

People look for useable items at a junkyard near the Bagram Air Base in Bagram in June after the Pentagon began evacuating Bagram airbase as part of its plan to withdraw all forces

People look for useable items at a junkyard near the Bagram Air Base in Bagram in June after the Pentagon began evacuating Bagram airbase as part of its plan to withdraw all forces

In that last category are former interpreters and those who face retaliation from the Taliban. The U.S. has already started pulling out hundreds of those Afghans who assisted troops during the war.

Officials pointed to the fall of Baghlan Province as a worrisome sign because it provides the Taliban with a base and route to Kabul from the north.

The Islamists now control 65% of Afghanistan and have taken or threaten to take 11 provincial capitals, a senior EU official said on Tuesday. 

Faizabad, in the northeastern province of Badakhshan, on Wednesday became the eighth provincial capital to be seized by the Taliban.

Fresh refugee crisis looms as people flee the Taliban

The Taliban is sweeping across Afghanistan, seizing territory and cities from the government – some of which have been given up with barely a fight.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled as the militants closed in, with the UN estimating that 400,000 were displaced in the first few months of this year including 244,000 who have fled their homes since May when fighting began ramping up.

Most have remained within the country, heading into government-controlled areas in the hopes of finding safety there, with many ending up in the capital Kabul.

Some 200 crossed the border into Iran at the weekend, the UN says, joining millions of other Afghan refugees who have fled to the country starting four decades ago with the Soviet invasion.

Others have headed south towards the border with Pakistan, but with the Taliban in control of the main crossing and Pakistan saying it will not accept more refugees, it is unclear how many have crossed.

Pakistan is already home to at least 2.5million displaced Afghans, though the true toll is thought to be much higher once undocumented refugees are included. 

Fighting was extremely intense in Kandahar city, a doctor based in southern Kandahar province said. The city received scores of bodies of Afghan forces and some injured Taliban.

All gateways to Kabul, which lies in a valley surrounded by mountains, were choked with civilians fleeing violence, a Western security source said. It was hard to tell whether Taliban fighters were also getting through, the source said.

‘The fear is of suicide bombers entering the diplomatic quarters to scare, attack and ensure everyone leaves at the earliest opportunity,’ he said.

The United Nations said more than 1,000 civilians had been killed in the past month. The International Committee of the Red Cross said that, since August 1, some 4,042 wounded people had been treated at 15 health facilities.

The Taliban denied targeting or killing civilians and called for an independent investigation.

The group ‘has not targeted any civilians or their homes in any locality, rather the operations have been undertaken with great precision and caution,’ spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said in a statement on Wednesday.

The loss of Faizabad was the latest setback for the government of President Ashraf Ghani, who flew to Mazar-i-Sharif to rally old warlords to the defense of the biggest city in the north as Taliban forces closed in.

Ghani spent years sidelining the warlords as he tried to project the authority of his central government over wayward provinces.

The Taliban advances have raised fears of a return to power of the hardline militants who formed in 1994 from the chaos of civil war.

A new generation of Afghans, who have come of age since 2001, fears the progress made in areas such as women’s rights and media freedom will be squandered.

Price said the United States was working to forge an international consensus behind the need for a peace accord. 

The Taliban have captured districts bordering Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Pakistan and China, heightening regional security concerns.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said Taliban leaders told him earlier this year that they will not negotiate with the Afghan government as long as Ghani remains president.

Some experts claim that finger-pointing at the government and Afghan forces from U.S. officials is somewhat disingenuous.

Defense specialist Anthony Cordesman said that the ‘nation-building’ achievements U.S. officials have touted in strengthening the central government and in training a modern army over the past 20 years have been vastly exaggerated.

‘The US made far too optimistic claims about the Afghan government´s progress in governance, progress in warfighting and in creating effective Afghan security forces,’ he wrote in a new report for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Even as the U.S. period neared its end, he said, ‘Afghan forces remained dependent on U.S. support for virtually all operations.’


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