Yes, this is perhaps as blunt and pessimistic a statement as the military has ever made about Afghanistan. It’s also the first time that the Biden administration or the military has publicly acknowledged the ultimate risk of this withdrawal.
This is General Scott Miller, the U.S. commander in Kabul, telling journalists: “Civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized if this continues on the trajectory it’s on right now. That should be a concern to the world, and it’s certainly a concern to the region for creating an environment where there’s even more violence than there is today.”
So what’s behind this warning? The first thing, Taliban strength. Since the U.S. announced its withdrawal, the Taliban have seized some 50 districts across the country, some of them not so important, but others critical, and could cut off Kabul from the other parts of the country.
Second, Afghan army weakness. Across the country, we are seeing examples of the Afghan army surrendering to the Taliban. That’s what you’re seeing right there, surrendering to the Taliban, instead of the fighting. The speed with which they have given up territory has surprised the U.S. and Afghan governments.
And, third, ethnic and government divisions. These are civilians recreating local militaries. And that hearkens back to a time in Afghanistan where the country was ruled or not ruled because there were so many local militias overseen by warlords. So it’s pretty grim.
Judy,there’s an intelligence community assessment that Kabul could fall within six months, but there are also assessments that Kabul could hold on even if it loses other parts of the country.
But the bottom line, the U.S. will not be there to save the Afghan military or the Afghan government.