The Taliban have seized Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city, and promise to reach Kabul, the Afghan capital, in the coming weeks. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed the Biden administration for the Taliban advance, arguing that it carried out “poor planning in the withdrawal of U.S. troops.”
In a statement released Friday, the Taliban said they had seized control of the Kandahar governor’s office, police headquarters, and other key operational centers across the city. “Hundreds of weapons, vehicles and ammunition were seized,” the Taliban statement said.
The insurgents also seized the nearby town of Lashkar Gah and now control about a third of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals.
Reports indicate widespread panic across the country, and Afghan citizens are fleeing Taliban troops, most heading to Kabul, seeing the capital as their last safe haven.
Thousands of Afghan citizens left their homes and everything they had to take refuge in places where the Taliban have not yet arrived. In Kabul, the streets are crowded with refugees waiting for some form of assistance.
The World Food Program (WFP) warned that there is a worrisome humanitarian catastrophe and that food shortages are extremely serious. Of particular concern is a Save the Children report indicating that more than 72,000 children are among those who fled to the capital in recent days.
Makeshift camps have been set up in the bush outside the capital, while many others have reportedly been sleeping in abandoned warehouses.
Pompeo, who helped plan and execute the early days of the shift toward withdrawing troops from the country after 20 years there, spoke to Fox News and expressed his displeasure with the situation, noting that he and President Donald Trump had made sure to generate multiple “deterrence models” to generate an orderly and controlled withdrawal. Nothing that ultimately happened since the Biden administration took command of the situation, Pompeo asserted.
“[It] looks like they have not been able to execute this,” he said. “Strategy depends on planning and execution. Looks like there’s a bit of panic. I hope that they have the right number of folks and get them there quickly. I hope we can protect Americans in the way the Trump administration had every intention of doing.”
Pompeo said the real concern in Afghanistan is not the Taliban per se. The main fear is that the return of the Taliban regime will likely return Afghanistan to being a “hotbed” for terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS, as it was before Sept. 11, 2001.
Earlier Thursday, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, warned that “For months, I have pressed President Biden for a plan to avoid the very situation that is now happening in Afghanistan. Now, American lives are at risk because President Biden still doesn’t have a plan,” Rogers said in a statement.
At the same time, there has been great concern since it emerged that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with senior Taliban leaders in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin on Wednesday, July 28, in what was seen as a significant step in the new alliance between the communist regime and the resurgent Islamist group seeking to rule Afghanistan after the confirmation of the departure of U.S. troops.
According to official reports, Wang Yi met with Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who heads the group’s political committee. Baradar was accompanied by the heads of the Taliban’s religious and publicity committees.
The Chinese communist regime flaunts its intervention in Afghanistan as a supposed mission to bring peace and reconciliation to its complex social fabric. In parallel, it has announced the extension of its “Belt and Road” economic corridor along its territory, as reported by the Daily Mail.