Afghans Refuse to Be Cowed by the Taliban

President Biden, still on the defensive over the implementation of our withdrawal from Afghanistan (sadly, he is in better political shape on the decision to withdraw itself), threw the Afghan people under the bus this week in declaring they “are not willing to fight for themselves.” Elliot Ackerman rose to the Afghans’ defense in the Washington Post.

The Afghan military has consistently, in any one year, sustained more casualties in its fight against the Taliban than we have sustained in all 20 years of our war there. I fought alongside the Afghans. I watched them save American lives.

To abandon an ally is bad enough. To insult an ally from the East Room of the White House as Biden did in his speech creates a lasting moral injury.

That said, the best response to Biden’s casual slander comes from the Afghans themselves. Contrary to what Biden thinks and would have us believe, the Afghan people did not stop fighting the terrorist regime that now claim to be rule them.

Indeed, they’re still fighting it.

From the Panjshir Valley (Newsweek) …

The leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA) has urged western nations to supply their armed struggle against the Taliban “without delay.”

Ahmad Massoud said his mujahideen fighters in the Panjshir Valley—which he called the “last bastion of Afghan freedom”—in the north of the country “are prepared to once again take on the Taliban” following its takeover of Kabul last weekend.

… to the streets of Jalalabad, Asadabad, and Khost (Telegraph).

Flag-waving protesters descended onto the streets of several cities across Afghanistan on Thursday, as numerous Afghans were killed by Taliban fighters who opened fire on the crowds.

In the first popular opposition since the Taliban’s seized control of Kabul on Sunday, protesters took to the streets of the capital in defiance of the insurgents on the day that Afghanistan celebrates its 1919 independence from British control.

“Our flag, our identity,” a crowd of men and some women waving black, red and green national flags shouted in the capital. Some of those marching also chanted “God is greatest.”

How the Taliban handle the protests, which have included people tearing down white Taliban flags, could determine whether Afghans put faith in their assurances that they have changed since their 1996-2001 rule, when they severely restricted women, staged public executions and blew up ancient Buddhist statues.

Meanwhile, the Taliban are showing their determination to alienate more Afghans (Telegraph).

The document from a group called the Norwegian Centre for Global Analyses which provides intelligence to UN agencies, said there were reports the Taliban were working from a list of people they wanted to question and punish. The list included the locations of their targets.

Taliban had been going door to door and “arresting and/or threatening to kill or arrest family members of target individuals unless they surrender themselves to the Taliban,” the report said.

Members of the Afghan military and the police, as well as those who worked for investigative units were most at risk.

There is a human tendency to declare certain eras “over” and slowly (or quickly) let them recede into history. That temptation is all the greater given the numerical neatness of “20 years.”  Already, we are seeing columns that call the horrors of 9/11 and the tragic scenes out of Kabul airport as “bookends to the 9/11 era” (WaPo).

However, the world just isn’t that simple. For the Afghan people, the cycle of tyranny has started again, but so has the resistance. Time will tell how long it will take the people of Afghanistan to free themselves, but it will go a lot quicker – and with far less global terrorist activity against Americans – the more we help them do it.

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