What topped off a bad week for the USA? The “delusional” speech by President Biden and his even more delusional pronouncements in his answers to the media. We don’t recall any President so condemned across all shades of the American political-media spectrum. That wasn’t all. President Biden’s own officials clearly disassociated themselves from his answers. If that wasn’t enough, Senator Lindsay Graham demanded use of the “full force of the military” and said “he [Biden] should be impeached for dereliction of duty“. That in itself is not the complete surprise. What surprised us is that MSNBC gave coverage to his call at all:
Having said that, we think it is imperative to include the historic Speech & Presser by President Biden. We think we all will be hearing parts of this for the next 25-50 years.
But look what he said in the first minute of his speech:
- Now we have 6,000 troops in Afghanistan including the 82nd Airborne providing runway security, the Army 10th Mountain Division standing guard … and the 24th Marine expeditionary unit …
The 82nd Airborne, the 10th Mountain Division and a Marine expeditionary unit are serving as traffic cops? Not for long. And for those who didn’t hear, F-18s from a nearby aircraft carrier were reportedly patrolling the skies over Kabul on Thursday evening.
Now we ourselves are going to sound nuts & delusional to many when we say we were encouraged both by the press conference and the virulent condemnation of Biden’s answers post-speech. In fact the more we think, the more positive we get about the possibility of a “got you where we want you, Taliban” moment.
But before we get to that, we must point out what might be going on underneath what we all hear on TV. And that discussion needs to begin with a lookback to a decision from VP Biden days.
2. “the surprise“
Recall the ethnic map of Afghanistan from National Geographic:
The Taliban is a Pashtun movement. Think back to 2001 and recall how this ruling Pashtun Talibani regime was defeated & routed by the Northern Front of Tajik, Uzbek & Hazara minorities with the aid of US Airforce & US special forces. And where are these tribes in Afghanistan? In the north along the countries of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan & Turkmenistan.
Now look at the map below of the provincial capitals First captured by the Taliban:
Notice that the Taliban first captured all the provincial capitals along the Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan & Tajikistan borders, all populated by the respective minority tribes. Say what?
This was expressed in an academic manner by Thomas Barfield, a specialist in anthropology of Afghani tribes, to Blomberg’s Tom Keene on Monday, August 16:
- ” … the surprise this time is that they [Taliban] first took the north; that’s the non-Pashtun region of the country; the Ashraf Ghani regime had to do something really bad to alienate all the non-Pashtuns in the north-east that they were willing to ally with the Taliban … “
The pivotal decision that led to this can be encapsulated in the 2014 photo below from the previous Biden-involved administration:
(Abdullah-Abdullah, John Kerry & Ashraf Ghani)
The first president of post-9/11 Afghanistan was a wily Pashtun named Hamid Karzai. His tenure ended in the election in 2014. Ashraf Ghani was the Pashtun contestant & Abdullah-Abdullah was the Northern Front contestant. That reportedly was an almost fake election dominated by corruption & both claimed victory. Then Secretary of State John Kerry mediated and appointed the Pashtun Ghani as the President and Abdullah-Abdullah as a CEO. Ashraf Ghani served as the President from August 2014 to August 21, when he flew out of Afghanistan to avoid capture by the Taliban.
Ghani was a perfect choice for the Obama-Biden-Kerry administration. He had taught at U.S. Universities like Johns Hopkins & served as Finance Minister. And he was a Pashtun, the tribe that USA foreign policy establishment believes must run Afghanistan. But he turned out to be a disastrous choice for Afghanistan.
As Kabir Taneja, Fellow, Strategic Studies Program, Observer Research Foundation, wrote recently:
- “Scholar Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili highlights that heavy-handed political plays by Ghani with leaders representing the north and warlords that were acting as governors in the region only fragmented the situation further. Ghani’s open political and electoral battle with Abdullah Abdullah further played out divisions in the north. “In addition to well-chronicles corruption, the governments heavy handedness along with perceptions of ethnic and regional favouritism, undermined trust in Kabul. This opened fertile ground to anti-government insurgency to grow in the north,” Murtazashvili writes.”
Anyone who has followed Afghanistan since the Obama Administration should not be shocked by the near zero support for the Ghani regime in the Northern Front. And Ghani & the US team seem to have deliberately starved the northern minority states of funding.
People may recall President Obama came to power in 2009 convinced that Na-Pakistan was wronged by President Bush & we can see now that everything he did in Afghanistan was what Na-Pakistan wanted. So Taliban went from strength to strength in his tenure and the non-Pashtun Northern Front kept getting weaker. That brings us to the virtual walkover by the Taliban in the northern-areas in July-August.
So the real surprise to us is that Professor Barfield was surprised at non-Pashtuns in the north refusing to fight for the Ghani regime.
3. Back to Panjshir for Northern Front 2.0?
Recall that there was a legendary Afghan chief named Ahmed Shah Massoud who never accepted the Taliban 1.0 regime of the late 1990s. Osama Bin Laden did not want the risk of him serving as a focal point of resistance after his planned 9/11. So he sent a couple of “reporters” to interview Massoud. As he sat for the interview, one of the “reporters” pulled out a gun and killed the unsuspecting Massoud. That was on September 9, 2011, two days prior to 9/11.
Why the history? Because the Son has now risen up against the Taliban 2.0:
Amrullah Saleh, Vice President of Afghanistan and Ahmad Massoud, son of Ahmad Shah Massoud spotted in Panjshir.They are bringing all Anti-Taliban commanders together in Panjshir. This province is still free from Taliban. pic.twitter.com/bgb8hUdfwi
— Sudhir Chaudhary (@sudhirchaudhary) August 16, 2021
A day later, Mr. Saleh claimed the leadership of Afghanistan as the First Vice President in the Ghani administration:
- Amrullah Saleh@AmrullahSaleh2 – – Clarity: As per d constitution of Afg, in absence, escape, resignation or death of the President the FVP becomes the caretaker President. I am currently inside my country & am the legitimate care taker President. Am reaching out to all leaders to secure their support & consensus.
And what is the reputation of Mr. Saleh?
How can this fledgling movement survive against an onslaught from the Taliban 2.0?
Words might be better in this case:
- Jeff M. Smith@Cold_Peace_ Aug 17 – “Panjshir is approximately 100km north of Kabul and was the only part of Afghanistan to resist both Soviet [and Taliban] occupation…As the Soviets discovered, the Panjshir Valley is effectively a fortress, due to its topography.”
Jeff M. Smith@Cold_Peace_ Aug 17 – “It is surround by soaring and nearly impenetrable mountains that lead to the Hindu Kush. Towering cliffs at the north and south entry points ensure all traffic is funneled along a riverside road into narrow ravines which can be defended by a small number of troops.“
Mr. Smith points out that the above descriptions are from an October 2011 article from the Lowy Institute .
That this uprising might be serious was suggested by the tweet on August 17 from Ragip Soylu, Turkey Bureau Chief for the MiddleEastEye:
- Ragıp Soylu@ragipsoylu – – Interesting: Afghanistan’s Vice President Saleh’s forces recaptured the Charikar district of Parwan province north of Kabul from the Taliban, a military source in the Afghan capital told RIA Novosti. “The Fights are now in the Panjsher area,” Charikar is just north of Kabul
If true, this is a big deal. Look how close Chariker is to the Bagram air base. But do these guys have an air capability?
- The Wall Street Journal@WSJ– – A large portion of the Afghan Air Force has ended up in neighboring Uzbekistan, after hundreds of Afghan service members used U.S.-supplied planes and helicopters to flee the Taliban, U.S. officials said
The article adds:
- “At least 46 of the aircraft crossed over Afghanistan’s border into Uzbekistan since last weekend, when the Taliban seized Kabul and the government collapsed, U.S. officials said. The planes and helicopters carried a total of 585 members of Afghan forces with them, the officials said. A handful of airplanes also ended up in Tajikistan, also on Afghanistan’s northern border. The U.S. embassies of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.”
But are the Uzbeks & Tajiks going alone or are they going to fight together as they did in 2001?
- Jeff M. Smith@Cold_Peace_ – “Already, several Afghan Air Force transporters and fighter jets have landed in neighboring Uzbekistan. Dostum’s camp followers have claimed that they will be in a position to send 10,000 Afghan army personnel to the region to join hands with the Tajiks of Panjshir Valley.“
Yeah but, the above quotes seem to be from the right wing. Is anyone from the left wing highlighting the uprising above?
Emphatically yes, as we see an appeal from Ahmad Massoud published by The Washington Post titled The mujahideen resistance to the Taliban begins now. But we need help.
Remember that the Biden Administration has frozen about $9 billion of Afghan Government money. Is it possible that Amrullah Saleh, the de jour head of Afghanistan, could claim at least a part of this money? Stratfor referred to this possibility in their article on August 18 on the Anti-Taliban Movement in Afghanistan:
- “The international community may block the Taliban from accessing Afghan monies abroad, but it is not assured that a government in exile or a resistance movement would be allowed access to those funds. Saleh’s recent move to declare himself as the leader of Afghanistan’s legitimate government may be an attempt to ensure access to those accounts.”
It seems the Taliban are concerned because, according to yesterday’s clip below from India’s Republic TV, a Taliban delegation has visited Ahmad Massoud in the Panjshir valley. We can’t speak to whether the photos of the Panjshir base in the clip were live or old media footage but the conversation does seem live.
This morning, a clip from Hindustan Times dated August 21, 2021 stated that Ex-Afghan defense minister, Bismillah Muhammadi has joined the Northern Front 2.0 and he said they have re-captured 3 provinces, Pul-e-Hesar, deh-e-Saleh & Banu from the Taliban.
A Newsweek article has also reported the re-capture of these 3 provinces & deaths of 60 Taliban fighters in their article Anti-Taliban Resistance Recaptures Multiple Areas as Afghans Fight Back.
That leads us to:
4. Got them where we want them?
Any American who watched President Biden’s speech on Friday and watched the media reaction to it has to feel absolutely horrible. Not only is the delusion extremely scary, but the lunacy behind the original decision is beyond comprehension. It seems the Biden team was so desperate to leave that they agreed to just about anything the Taliban demanded.
And they seem to have zero clue about the nature of the people they were dealing with. All the Biden team seemingly wanted was a face-saving peaceful exit & after that they didn’t care what the Taliban did. But the Pashtuns don’t let their quarry keep their face. Their style is to humiliate the surrendering party to the utmost. That is precisely what they have done to President Biden and his entire team.
We suspect that the post-Friday vitriolic condemnation of the Biden speech has even reached Mr. Biden. And we have no doubt, it has infuriated Mrs. Biden. And the entire Biden political-diplomatic-military team has been humiliated and tarred by this act of ultimate stupidity & ultimate cowardice.
Mr. & Mrs. Biden don’t have to worry about their career or their next jobs. But everyone else in the Biden team does. If this situation ends as badly as it seems it might, if the Taliban prove to be as bad as Taliban 1.0, the Biden team will be tarred for life. Nobody wants this disaster on their resume. And they have begun to panic, as many see. They have begun challenging President Biden’s comments publicly & they must be doing so gently with him in private.
This is no longer about getting all the Americans & the Afghan helpers out. That is only the first step. It is now really about who owns September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of 9/11. As Lara Logan said on Fox news on Saturday morning, the Taliban have invited all to Kabul, all the bad guys who escaped the Bush retribution in 2001 by hiding in NaPakistan – the Haqqani family, other Al Qaida members.
So all the bad guys are now together in Kabul. And their contempt for Biden is so huge that no one expects the U.S. to do anything except go out with tails between the legs. And even the ultimate elite publication has Biden’s & America’s humiliation plastered on their front cover.
Any one who knows anything about macro investing knows the track record of Economist covers. Nothing in the world is as clear a trigger to do the complete opposite.
The set up is so perfect, the opportunity is so great that to not even try seems almost criminal. Try what?
- First delay the evacuation to last beyond August 31. The Taliban will actually help in this regard. So blame the Taliban for delaying the U.S. exit. As we write this, Fox News is reporting that Americans are now being advised to NOT go to the Kabul airport. That’s perfect.
- During this delay, do everything private to help the Northern Front 2.0 to expand. Ideally help them take the Bagram airport having already taken Charikar.
- In the meantime, get ready to lower the boom if the Taliban get violent. The F-18s flying overhead can do lots of damage to the Taliban massed in Kabul. If they have the guts, the Biden team should take out the Haqqanis & other Al Qaida wandering about in public.
- And keep reminding the Taliban that they have to negotiate with the remnants of the Afghan Government, meaning Amrullah Saleh & the Northern Front 2.0.
His team should convince President Biden to put forth an Afghani version of the old Biden plan for Iraq. Vice President Biden had proposed a partition of Iraq into Shia, Sunni & Kurdish areas. That might not have been feasible.
But a similar President Biden plan for a partition of Afghanistan is eminently feasible. It would partition Afghanistan into
- Pashtun areas to the south of Kabul towards NaPakistan and
- Tajik, Uzbek areas north of Kabul up to the borders of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan & Tajikistan.
- Ideally Kabul should be made into a neutral zone without ownership by either side for foreign embassies etc.
We think Tajikistan & Uzbekistan would help implement & guard the plan and so would Russia. This would be the best route for China to ensure Islamic terrorists don’t enter Xinjiang from Uzbekistan.
This plan will be guarded by U.S. Air force flying overhead as they are doing right now over Kabul. In our opinion, the U.S. should take back the Bagram air base and use the Northern Front soldiers to guard it. Look how close Bagram is to Charikar that Northern Front has already taken:
Think about the terrific opportunity to convert the Biden debacle into the Biden plan for a peaceful partitioned Afghanistan in which all tribes benefit equally & old tribal customs are renewed. The Taliban don’t have to run back to their caves in NaPakistan; the Northern Front gets their own regions; Russia & China are relieved and the world praises the brilliant agility and common sense of President Biden & his team.
Let us be clear. It is only the enormous scale of the Biden disaster that makes this Biden plan achievable. And to paraphrase the poem – There is a tide in the affairs of leaders & their teams, Which taken at the flood of condemnation, leads on to fortune.
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