Explaining the Taliban’s lightning victory: Ajai Shukla

(Ajai Shukla is the consulting editor with Business Standard. The article first appeared in the Business Standard on August 17, 2021)

 

  • The Taliban’s lightning victory has seen its troops sweep through Afghanistan and capture Kabul in barely a fortnight after US intelligence forecast that the Afghan National Army (ANA) could hold them off for several months. Analysts are questioning the combat capability of the ANA and waxing lyrical about the warriorship of the hardy Taliban fighters. This analysis of the ANA’s rapid capitulation all across the country only illustrates the hazards of crystal gazing in an unfamiliar context. Few have pointed out that audio and video coverage of the battlegrounds of Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, Jalalabad and finally Kabul, show no signs of desperate last stands by the ANA; in fact, one has to strain to hear any firing at all. The reason is simple: The Afghan tradition of gaining control of areas does not necessarily involve combat. Most engagements are settled through negotiations and pay-offs before battle is joined. This style of fighting is peculiar to Afghanistan and must be viewed within this framework…

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