President Ashraf Ghani has fled Afghanistan, and his government has effectively collapsed. This marks the end of decades of US-backed governments during the US occupation, and an interim government of sorts is expected to be established.
Ghani, who is headed to Tajikistan, said he decided to leave Afghanistan to avoid further bloodshed. Taliban spokesmen say they don’t intend to carry out revenge attacks, and that they are awaiting a peaceful transition of power.
Afghans are a lot more pessimistic about Ghani’s departure, seeing it as a “disgrace” and abandonment of his responsibilities. His political opponents were quick to dismiss his departure, and said that they don’t expect history to remember him kindly.
There wasn’t much out of Ghani’s allies, because he didn’t have very many. The president was long isolated, and analysts were critical of his efforts to centralize power in his hands, seeing it as a big part of Afghanistan’s rapid collapse.
The latest reports are that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is being reported as likely president of the new Taliban government, though conflicting reports say former Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali would head a transitional government.
Baradar has been presented as a relatively moderate figure in the Taliban for years, and this likely will make him more palatable than some other hardliners for the world. Baradar also served as a chief negotiator for the Taliban in Doha.
Taliban officials are openly announcing the reestablishment of Afghanistan as an Islamic Emirate and trying to reassure the public about the fate of Kabul.
The US, for its part, has completed the evacuation of the Kabul Embassy, Staff is being taken to the Kabul Airport for flights back to the US. The airport is being closed to commercial flights, and videos show people crowding into the airport trying to flee the country on cargo planes.
This caps about 10 days of serious Taliban military offensives, culminating in a more or less complete takeover of Afghanistan. The situation continues to change rapidly, but the trend is clearly toward the Taliban taking over.