In July 2021, the then-President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani in a phone conversation with US President Biden told US President Joe Biden how the Taliban was advancing quickly with the help of Pakistan, as per a Reuters report.
He had said, “Mr President, we are facing a full-scale invasion, composed of Taliban, full Pakistani planning and logistical support, and at least 10-15,000 international terrorists, predominantly Pakistanis thrown into this.”
Ghani had urged US President to take note of Pakistan’s relations with the Taliban into consideration while making any decision about the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan.
The phone conversation between Ghani and Biden
As per experts of the call provided by News Agency Reuters, on July 23, then-President Ghani and President Biden had a conversation about the ongoing scuffle between Afghan forces and Taliban. Biden said that after having discussions with the officials in Pentagon, NSA and others, he came to the conclusion that the perception around the world, and in parts of Afghanistan, “is that things aren’t going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban.” He added that there was a need to project a different picture of the whole situation.
Biden urged Ghani to put Bismillah in charge of military strategy
During the conversation, President Biden urged then-President Ghani to give Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi powers to execute strategies focused on key parts of the population centres. He added that it would change the allies’ perception across the spectrum about how Ghani has been handling the situation in Afghanistan.
He further asked Ghani to consider bringing everyone from Former Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum to Former President Hamid Karzai to back the military strategy that gives Bismillah powers to execute military actions; it will change the perception to a large extent.
Biden promised to provide air support
While mentioning that Afghan forces include over 300,000 well-armed personnel, which is over 3-times in size of what the Taliban had at that time, Biden said that the US would continue to provide close air support during military operations of Afghan forces through the end of August. However, US troops had left several bases in Afghanistan much before the August 31 deadline. In some cases, they did not even inform the Afghan forces about the withdrawal.
Biden further promised Ghani that in addition to the air support, the US would continue to “fight hard, diplomatically, politically, economically, to make sure your government not only survives but is sustained and grows because it is clearly in the interest of the people of Afghanistan, that you succeed and you lead.”
Ghani had raised concerns over Pakistan’s involvement
The Reuters article further stated that President Ghani said that Afghanistan was facing a full-scale invasion by the Taliban with the support of Pakistan in terms of planning and logistics. He further added that the US should consider the fact that there were 10,000 to 15,000 international terrorists, mainly from Pakistan, that were fighting against the Afghan forces. Ghani added that there was a heavy reliance on air power during the war between Afghan forces and the Taliban.
Ghani added he has high expectations regarding the close air support from USA and asserted that the Afghan forces are dependent on it. However, as there was an agreement with the Taliban regarding [air strikes] that Ghani’s administration was unaware of, US Air Force was extremely cautious in attacking the Taliban.
He further added that Dr Abdullah, who went to negotiate with the Taliban, made it clear that the Taliban had no inclination. “We can get to peace only if we rebalance the military situation. And I can assure you…,” Ghani said.
The urban resistance in major cities
Ghani said that he had been travelling to the four key cities with the vice president and others and assured Biden that the urban resistance had been extraordinary in those cities. Some of them had taken a siege of 55 days but did not surrender. Thus, Biden’s assurance of support would go a long want. Biden replied that CAS would only work if there was a military strategy on the ground.
What is close air support?
According to DOD, “Close air support (CAS) is air action by fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft against hostile targets that are in close proximity to friendly forces and requires detailed integration of each air mission with the fire and movement of those forces.”
CAS is a critical part of military action and requires detailed planning, coordination and training of the ground and supporting air forces to ensure safe and effective execution of the military operations.
The current situation in Afghanistan
As of September 1, US troops have completely withdrawn from Afghanistan. There are some US citizens and allies left in Afghanistan, and it is unclear when would they get evacuated. Taliban has taken complete control of the country except for a few regions, which are expected to fall into the hands of the Taliban soon. The Jihadists have imposed several restrictions on women, like the compulsory burqa. They have restricted women employees from joining their positions in several establishments, both private and government.
Taliban has put a ban on music, co-education and more as per the Sharia law. Executions in broad daylight are happening in Afghanistan for petty reasons like not wearing a burqa or donning the Afghan flag. As the situation worsens in Afghanistan, the US is getting heavily criticized for abandoning Afghanistan on its fate after 20 years of war.