In a stunning rout, the Taliban seized nearly all of Afghanistan in just over a week, despite the billions of dollars spent by the U.S. and NATO over nearly two decades to build up Afghan security forces. Just days earlier, an American military assessment estimated it would be a month before the capital would come under insurgent pressure.
The fall of Kabul marks the final chapter of America’s longest war, which began after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks masterminded by al-Qaida’s Osama bin Laden, then harboured by the Taliban government. A U.S.-led invasion dislodged the Taliban and beat them back, though America lost focus on the conflict in the chaos of the Iraq War.
As the insurgents closed in Sunday, President Ashraf Ghani flew out of the country. Ghani later posted on Facebook that he had chosen to leave the country to avert bloodshed in the capital, without saying where he had gone.
The Taliban is a predominantly Pashtun, Islamic fundamentalist group that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when a U.S.-led invasion toppled the regime for providing refuge to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. The Taliban regrouped across the border in Pakistan and has led an insurgency against the U.S.-backed government in Kabul for nearly twenty years.
There is little doubt that many Afghans who initially joined the movement were educated in madrassas (religious schools) in Pakistan. Pakistan was also one of only three countries, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which recognised the Taliban when they were in power in Afghanistan.
On Monday, August 23rd, Prime Minister Imran Khan praised Afghans for “breaking the shackles of slavery”. On social media, retired generals and other Taliban boosters hailed the triumph of Islam.
Exultant Pakistanis shared a video clip from 2014 featuring Hamid Gul, a former head of the army’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
“When history is written, it will be stated that the ISI defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan with the help of America,” Gul says to a fawning TV studio audience. “Then there will be another sentence. The ISI, with the help of America, defeated America.”
It must be remembered that between 2002 and 2018, the US government gave Pakistan more than $33 billion in assistance, including about $14.6 billion in so-called Coalition Support Funds paid by the Pentagon to the Pakistani military. During the same period, Pakistan ensured the failure of America’s Afghanistan project by surreptitiously sheltering, arming and training the Taliban. One would think the Americans would have got the message when in 2011 US Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in a safe house next to Pakistan’s premier military academy. But successive administrations — Republican and Democratic — refused to take measures that could have forced Pakistan to rethink its support for the Taliban.
At least for now, the Taliban’s victory fulfils the Pakistani army’s decades-old quest to gain “strategic depth” by controlling Afghanistan. But this will not sate the generals; it will whet their appetite.
The symbolic significance of an army of zealots humbling the world’s sole superpower is hard to exaggerate. In the Pakistani army it will strengthen the hand of those who view Afghanistan not merely in geopolitical terms, but as the fulfilment of a religious project rooted in an extreme interpretation of Islam that shuns all Western influence.
The same holds true in Pakistani society at large. If music-hating, anti-Western, anti-Shiite misogynists can seize power in Kabul, why can’t they do the same in Islamabad? At least one homegrown Pakistani jihadist group, the Tehreek-e-Taliban, is comprised of fighters already at odds with the Pakistani government.
In a phone interview from Islamabad, Afrasiab Khattak, a former Pakistani senator and Pashtun-rights activist, points out that Pakistan houses some 36,000 madrassas, or religious seminaries, some of which are militant. “The same places producing the Taliban are producing similar people in Pakistan,” he says. “They will contest for power in Pakistan too.”
In early 2009, when Afghan President Hamid Karzai pressed Vice President-elect Joe Biden to crack down on Taliban safe havens across the border, Mr Biden reportedly rebuffed him by pointing out that “Pakistan is 50 times more important than Afghanistan for the United States.” As president, Mr Biden may have ensured that Pakistan is 50 times more dangerous to the US and the world as well.
Watch as Bible prophecy plays out in the Middle East. The next big power play will come from Turkey (Sunni) in an effort to rebuild an Ottoman Empire. It will not tolerate Iran (Shiite) exerting its influence with proxies. Iran has built a network of proxies across the Middle East. At of beginning of 2020, Tehran had allies among more than a dozen major militias, some with their own political parties, that challenged local and neighbouring governments. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the elite Qods Force provided arms, training and financial support to militias and political movements in at least six countries: Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Syria and Yemen.
Turkey (Goat) in this next prophecy overcomes Iran (Ram) in its effort to re-establish its Ottoman Empire. It must be remembered that at least 80% of Pakistan’s Muslims are Sunni so it will support Turkey.
“As I was considering, behold, a male goat (Turkey) came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. He came to the ram (Iran) with the two horns, which I had seen standing on the bank of the canal, and he ran at him in his powerful wrath. I saw him come close to the ram, and he was enraged against him and struck the ram and broke his two horns. And the ram had no power to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled on him. And there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power.” Daniel 8:5-7
Bible prophecy then reveals that the re-established Ottoman Empire is short lived. It is broken up by the super powers into four and it is out of the four that the Little Horn (Antichrist) emerges.
“Then the goat became exceedingly great, but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven.
Out of one of them came a little horn (Antichrist), which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land.” Daniel 8:8-9