The Taliban seized nearly all of Afghanistan in just over a week, despite the hundreds of billions of dollars spent by the U.S. and NATO over nearly two decades to build up Afghan security forces. Kabul is the only major city left standing. With Afghan President Ashraf Ghani being on the brink of losing control of the country, a resignation may be happening soon.
As the talks were still on, the Khamma Press News Agency on Sunday reported that Ali Ahmad Jalali could be the head of the new interim government.
DEVELOPMENTS SO FAR
- The Taliban fighters entered Kabul on Sunday and sought the unconditional surrender of the Afghan government. However, they apparently remained outside of the city’s downtown.
- Meanwhile, Taliban negotiators have headed to the presidential palace to discuss the transfer, news agency AP quoted an Afghan official as saying. However, it was unclear when that transfer would take place.
- According to an official, the negotiators on the government side included former President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan National Reconciliation Council. Abdullah long has been a vocal critic of President Ashraf Ghani, who long refused giving up power to get a deal with the Taliban.
- While talks were still on, Acting Defense Minister Bismillah Khan sought to reassure the public that Kabul would remain “secure.” The Taliban also tried to calm residents of the capital, insisting their fighters wouldn’t enter people’s homes or interfere with businesses. They also said they’d offer an “amnesty” to those who worked with the Afghan government or foreign forces.
- “No one’s life, property and dignity will be harmed and the lives of the citizens of Kabul will not be at risk,” the Taliban said in a statement. But they also warned no one to enter the area around the capital.
- In the backdrop, several people rushed to leave the country through the Kabul airport, which is the last route out of the country as the Taliban by now have captured every border crossing.
- The militants also took Maidan Shar, the capital of Maidan Wardak, on Sunday, Afghan lawmaker Hamida Akbari and the Taliban said. Another provincial capital in Khost also fell to the insurgents, said a provincial council member who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. Afghan officials said the capitals of Kapisa and Parwan provinces also fell.
- The militants also took the land border at Torkham, the last not in their control, on Sunday. Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told local broadcaster Geo TV that Pakistan halted cross-border traffic there after the militants seized it.
- Later, Afghan forces at Bagram air base, home to a prison housing 5,000 inmates, surrendered to the Taliban, according to Bagram district chief Darwaish Raufi. The prison at the former U.S. base held both Taliban and Islamic State group fighters.