The Taliban blitzed across Afghanistan since the launch of their offensive in May, and within months, taken over the entire country.
After nearly two decades of fighting against the foreign occupation, the Taliban has finally taken control of Afghanistan.
In June, the US intelligence community concluded that the Afghan government could fall within six months. Last week, US intelligence analysts predicted the fall of Kabul to take place within 90 days, but in reality, it only took a few days.
The Taliban blitzed across the country since the launch of their offensive in May taking over city after city, as the United States prepared to withdraw the last of its troops by the end of August.
The group made rapid military advances that saw Afghan government forces either fleeing or surrendering.
On Sunday, the Taliban were inside Kabul for the first time since 2001, where they took over control of the presidential palace soon after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
The Taliban’s swift victory has prompted questions over how the armed group managed to gain control so quickly after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
‘Low morale, lack of unity’
In the past two decades, the US spent more than a trillion dollars in Afghanistan. It trained Afghan forces and provided them with multi-billion dollar equipment.
But despite that, Afghan forces continued to lose ground to Taliban fighters.
Afghan political analysts say government forces were plagued by corruption, poor leadership and low morale for several years.
“Lack of unity and leadership, rise in corruption and dependency on US air forces are few of the many reasons why Afghan forces lost the battle against the Taliban,” Faiz Muhammad Zaland told TRT World, adding that Kabul’s take over by the Taliban is Afghan government’s “catastrophic defeat”.
Faced with highly motivated Taliban fighters and no foreign military support or airstrikes, many soldiers deserted or surrendered.
How did it start?
After years of negotiations, the Taliban and the Trump administration signed a peace deal in which the US agreed to withdraw troops and release some 5,000 Taliban prisoners, while the Taliban agreed to sever ties with armed groups including Al Qaeda.
However, the Taliban continued to attack Afghan government forces in a show of force on the ground and urged several soldiers to surrender or cooperate.
Sources said the armed group had put in place an amnesty deal for Afghan forces in the case of an unconditional surrender. This helped them swiftly take over several cities.
Alongside this, Taliban leadership also focused on strengthening its military position to give it leverage in negotiations.
“The success of the Taliban can be broken down on three levels. Their individual conviction can be attributed to their religious fervour and the perfection of the narrative they had built to justify their cause,” Obaidullah Baheer, a lecturer of Transitional Justice at the American University in Kabul, told TRT World.
“On the government’s side, the incompetence of the officials was deplorable. They lost the narrative war, the strategic upper hand and the morale of their soldiers.”
Why did some Afghan officials hand over power?
On Sunday, when the Taliban forces edged closer to Jalalabad, capital of the eastern Nangarhar province, governor Ziaulhaq Amarkhil handed over the province to the Taliban.
He explained the reason for his surrender was to avoid bloodshed and “destruction”.
“We said we want to find a peaceful way of ending this fight otherwise we will be fighting forever,” he told TRT World.
“I told them to forget about taking revenge and work towards building this country, as for how long are we going to be fighting?”
When the Taliban inched closer to Kabul on Sunday, they pledged not to take the capital “by force”.
“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 video statement, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who heads the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, said he did not expect to achieve its goals in Afghanistan so quickly.
“I did not expect that we would achieve such a success so quickly but God was in our favor,” he said.
The Taliban have refused the possibility of a transitional government and will be taking full control of the levers of power.
The military, in order to fight, needs leadership and strategy, Baheer explains, both of which were absent in the fighting.
“The prospects of surrender compared to dying for a system that didn’t care seemed much better.”
Over 47,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict in Afghanistan since 2001 and several hundreds of thousands injured.
Source: TRT World