(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the most important story out of Afghanistan today and possibly about the entire war. It’s not an understatement to say that Hollie is one of the few western journalists in the country and has a vantage point few have. Please watch the entire interview; it’s filled with crucial information.)
In less than a week, Afghanistan has fallen. How could this happen so quickly after US officials assured everyone that the Afghan military was fully capable of defending the country against the Taliban?
Sunday evening (Afghanistan time) I spoke with Jenna Lee Babin of SmartHER News about how rapidly the country fell and why based on what I’ve seen and heard in the country. We’d spoken on Friday, and while it was a little tense at that time the changes since then have been abrupt, sudden, and dramatic.
With Mazar as an example, when we first got in early Thursday morning it was a normal city. It was full of life. People were in the streets. The markets were full. Everybody was at their shrine. And I remember being shocked because everybody was talking about the northern provinces going, and I thought it was completely exaggerated. There didn’t seem to be any imminent threat.
Friday, things had shifted. You could just feel a sense of fear. There were people saying, “They’re coming! They’re coming!” I wondered if they were exaggerating. Shopkeepers were closing down, but things were still open and there were people around.
And then Saturday it was just a ghost town, and people were lining up at banks to get money out. We were hearing rumors about there were three front lines and the first one had been breached.
And then it was gone, just like that. Literally, just like that.
From my understanding, the level of corruption within the Afghanistan military and the government, that is part of how the Taliban won a lot of this, is they paid the commanders off to surrender a city before. So those who genuinely do want to fight – and there are a lot of men that wanted to genuinely fight – they were basically kept in the dark and ANA commanders were paid off by the Taliban in advance to surrender the city. They were just left with, you have no choice but basically to run.
The level of corruption that’s enabled the Taliban to come back into power is just mind-blowing. It’s mind-blowing to see that and to see all of the weapons that have now gone into the Taliban’s hands when the Afghan army runs away, we paid for.
Watch the entire interview at my below.
This change doesn’t bode well for women and girls in the country. The only women I’ve seen outdoors since the Taliban takeover have been fully covered. Read more about what this means for Afghanistan’s women and girls here.