Kabul, soon to be the capital of what will be formally known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, had a blend of fear and panic with patches of surface calm Monday, one day after the Taliban took control of the city.
The Muslim outlet Ummid News reported that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has been declared president, replacing Ashraf Ghani, who fled as the Taliban moved on the capital.
Baradar, a co-founder of the Taliban with Mullah Omar, was captured in Pakistan in 2010 but released in 2018, according to the Associated Press.
He was part of the team of negotiators who met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other officials in Qatar in September 2020.
Baradar issued a rose-tinged statement about Afghanistan’s future on Sunday.
“Now it will be shown how we can serve our nation. We can assure that our nation has a peaceful life and a better future,” he said, according to The New York Times.
“There was no expectation that we would achieve victory in this war,” Baradar said. “But this came with the help of Allah, therefore we should be thankful to Him, be humble in front of Him, so that we do not act arrogantly.”
Mullah Baradar to Taliban: “we have reached a victory that wasn’t expected…we should show humility in front of Allah…now it’s time of test — now it’s about how we serve and secure our people, and ensure their future/good life to best of ability”
— Mujib Mashal (@MujMash) August 15, 2021
Although the Taliban have the smooth patter of 2021 down pat, no one should think that the Islamic group has changed, said retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, an assistant secretary of state for political affairs in the administration of former President George W. Bush administration, according to CNN.
“The Taliban 2.0 are no different from the Taliban 1.0. They just have a much better public relations campaign,” Kimmitt said.
“They’re not going to start out their new rule with attempting to stop innocent diplomats and innocent civilians from getting out of the country. In fact, the last thing they want to do is start a fight because the best thing for them would be to get everyone out of the country so they can re-establish control,” he said.
“They’re just masters at deception. They’re masters at propaganda. They’re masters at psychological warfare,” Kimmitt added. “So let’s not fool ourselves by the propaganda. In six months this will be Taliban 1.0, pre-2001.”
Although Kabul’s streets were mostly quiet Monday, many were doing their best to flee.
“Greetings, the Taliban have reached the city. We are escaping,” Sahraa Karimi, the head of Afghan Film, said in a Facebook post, according to the Times.
Some were so desperate for help they turned to the Taliban.
Abdul Jabar Safi, head of the Kabul Industrial Park, an area of hundreds of factories and businesses, said he has been trying to find a few terrorists to watch his buildings.
“We want the Taliban to reach us as soon as possible so they can secure the area,” he told the Times. “We are in touch with the Taliban and they have assured us that until they reach the industrial park we must keep the security of the park by ourselves.”
But mostly, the day was a day of panic for those who expect that their choices are to leave or die.
“I think you’ll probably see history describe this as a day that will live in infamy,” CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour said Sunday.
“You have in 20 years, and fast approaching the anniversary of 9/11, the very reason for the United States to enter Afghanistan and to correctly push back al-Qaida and the Taliban, which attacked the homeland, has now been completely and utterly handed back to the Taliban,” she said.
“They have been handed back, by the United States’ rapid withdrawal, the land of Afghanistan. And I think what you’re hearing from a lot of American military is a deep sense of regret. A deep sense that this perhaps did not need to happen,” Amanpour said.
— LBC (@LBC) August 16, 2021
“It’s sad and the West has done what it’s done. We have to do our very best to get people out and stand by our obligations and 20 years of sacrifice,” Wallace told LBC.
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