The Taliban, a militant group, swept Kabul after the Afghan government, backed by the US, fell following the departure of President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday. This brought an odd end to the efforts of the US and its allies to transform the war-torn nation in the last 20 years. Below are five turning points that led to the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban.
- The Taliban took advantage of the unconditional peace deal negotiated under then US President Donald Trump in 2020. As per the deal, the US agreed to pull out from war-torn Afghanistan by May 1, 2021. This boosted the confidence of the Taliban while undermining the morale of the Afghan forces. Furthermore, under the cover of the deal, the Taliban moved to strategic positions across Afghanistan, with the intention to isolate Afghan troops.
- The Ashraf Ghani administration was highly fractured. The 2014 and 2019 presidential elections in the country were marred by disputes, prompting Washington to negotiate solutions to the political deadlock between Ghani and his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah. The fissures in the Ghani administration started deepening after America decided to leave the country. Now, the Taliban had to provide an only external push to shatter the regime.
- In recent years, Afghan troops struggled with lack of training and insufficient warfare equipment. They often went unpaid for months. Corruption grew rapidly while morale declined. Meanwhile, the fractured Ghani administration was struggling to devise a counter-insurgency strategy.
- The Biden administration pulled out American air support, intelligence agents and contractors serving warplanes and helicopters in Afghanistan, enfeebling Afghan Air Force. The Taliban, subsequently, flared up in action to exploit the vulnerability of Afghan air personnel. In the last few months, as many as seven Afghan pilots have been killed by the Taliban (The deaths were reported by Reuters on July 9).
- Long before launching a big offensive on Afghan forces on May 4, the Taliban had begun setting up surrender deals to take over the war-torn country.