In the early hours this morning in #Afghanistan, the U.S. carried out a drone strike against an Islamic State (#ISKP) "planner" in Nangahar province, retaliation for the 26 August massacre at the Kabul airport. It seems the strike killed the target alone.
Given the speed of the anti-#ISKP strike last night, the lack of intelligence streams after the withdrawal of troops, and the concentration of all remaining resources in-country on Kabul, looks opportunistic, rather than targeted to someone directly tied to the airport atrocity.
This is an amazing response from the State Department: legalistic fiction that it doesn't deal with the Haqqani Network, an integrated Taliban component (as it is with Al-Qaeda), because the Haqqanis are designated terrorists.
Amrullah Saleh, the acting president of #Afghanistan who is with the resistance in #Panjshir, says his country is injured but it is not dead. The #Taliban are "proxy puppet" terrorists with minimal popular support, and the West can hasten their removal.
The official death toll from the Aug. 26 attack by #ISKP on the Kabul airport now stands at 170, including at least two British civilians and 13 US Marines, with nearly 200 wounded
A further testament to the #Taliban's efforts to erase cultural life in #Afghanistan, barely two weeks in.
The sounds of explosion so far today around Kabul airport seem, thankfully, to be destruction of military equipment by the US.
Entry to the Kabul airport has essentially been stopped to Afghans, even those with appropriate papers.

And meanwhile the Taliban is reported to be firing on crowds.
The danger of another, imminent #ISKP attack is very high.
Some of the #British citizens about to be left behind by this arbitrary #US deadline
#Taliban is requesting technical assistance from #Qatar to keep the airport running after NATO forces leave, and has been meeting with #Turkey on the same subject.

(Indeed, see the thread 👆🏼, seem to be nearly at a deal)…
The shadow of this horrific atrocity will be long, indeed. The atrocity itself is a message, of course, but the Islamic State has reinforced its narrative that it is a "true" jihadist group, while the Taliban collaborates with the Americans.
#IS has proceeded in #Afghanistan and #Pakistan, as it has elsewhere, by pulling away sections of the Taliban-Qaeda network. A major part of this is by convincing members that Al-Qaeda has deviated from "proper" jihadism, a dynamic likely to intensify now.
The "realist" argument that letting the #Taliban take over will provide "stability" in #Afghanistan is going to be falsified very quickly. These #Pakistan-run jihadists have no popular base and no ability or even really desire to govern a functional state.
Seems the #US killed two, rather than one, #ISKP "planners" last night, per @PentagonPresSec. Though the US will not be releasing the names.
Hopefully in one more press conference the administration can get to the truth about the Taliban and Haqqani Network. Will have only taken them three attempts.
#Britain has pushed back its deadline for the #Afghanistan evacuation amid a general dissatisfaction with the #US leadership on this
#France is talking to the #Taliban about providing humanitarian assistance, according to President Macron
The #British deadline, pushed back as it was, is over now
#US withdrawal underway, too: troops down to 4,000 from a peak of 5,800, according to officials speaking to @Reuters.
"As a Marine, I fought in Iraq and Afghanistan", was involved in the Katrina clear-up and covered Syria: "Never have I witnessed a greater, swifter collapse of competence than what I have seen with the U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan." - @elliotackerman…
#pt @elliotackerman: "Central to President Biden’s campaign was a promise that the candidate understood, deeply and personally, two essential things: empathy and service. Events in Afghanistan this week indicate this promise was, at worst, false and, at best, limited."
#pt @elliotackerman: "Apologists for the policies that brought us here [in #Afghanistan] claim that the catastrophic withdrawal was inevitable, that no degree of planning could have avoided this. That’s absurd."
Interesting, and a little bit strange: a man who says he is an #ISKP field commander has been interviewed by @CNN.…
#Biden statement on the drone strike against #ISKP says another "attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours"…
For @ForeignAffairs, @KoriSchake takes apart the feeble defences the Biden administration and its surrogates have been putting about for this catastrophe in Afghanistan.…
#Taliban condemn the #US drone strike earlier today against #ISKP…
Austin and Milley told Biden that with 3,000 to 4,500 troops, drones, and close air support to the Afghan army, the jihadists could be kept at bay. But Biden made an ideological decision to get the troop numbers to zero, and created this catastrophe.…
#pt @NYTimes: "Fewer than 100 American troops died in combat in Afghanistan over the past five years, roughly the equivalent of the number of Americans currently dying from Covid-19 every two hours. Until the devastating attack this week by ISIS-K at the Kabul airport".
#pt @NYTimes: "While he has suggested he had little choice because of the Trump agreement, Mr. Biden in fact was already determined to pull out of Afghanistan regardless and acknowledged [as much] in a recent interview with ABC News".
Moeed Yusuf, a disgusting human being who serves as national security adviser to #Pakistan's prime minister and who used to serve as the ISI's man at USIP, is now demanding the West recognise the jihadists his country just installed in Kabul.…
Even right after Kabul claimed ISKP was "obliterated" in November 2019, the estimates for its membership were higher than that, and ISKP is far more powerful now than it was then.

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More from @KyleWOrton

14 Sep
#IS established itself in "Af-Pak" by building off the Afghan Salafist community that took root in eastern areas via the Arab presence there beginning many decades ago. The Salafis had some second thoughts, but the #Taliban is now pressuring them, too.…
#pt: The Taliban made an approach to IS-Centre in 2015 to ask that ISKP not be used to open another jihadist front, since this would distract from the war with the West. No dice. IS didn't even bother to reply.
#pt: The original Pakistani, mostly TTP, leadership of #ISKP was killed off quite quickly and replaced with Afghan Salafis. The current leader, though, Dr. Shahab al-Muhajir, seems to be a former Haqqani Network operative, and has peeled away other parts of that network.
Read 4 tweets
13 Sep
The lengths the #KGB went to in trying to destroy #Solzhenitsyn even after he had been expelled from the Soviet Union are extraordinary, and not entirely irrational: they understood the danger he posed to them.

<Mini thread drawn from "The Sword and the Shield", pp. 312, 317-21>
Andropov first tried to expel Solzhenitsyn in autumn 1971, but Brezhnev listened to interior minister Nikolai Shchelokov, who said the great writer should be co-opted rather than persecuted. Andropov did not forget this, and later witch-hunted Shchelokov until he killed himself.
In late 1973, after Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov wrote an open letter that encouraged Congress to override the Nixon-Kissinger administration by passing Jackson-Vanik that linked Soviet trade privileges to human rights, Brezhnev said the KGB should have cracked down from the start.
Read 9 tweets
9 Sep
#Pakistan's ruler from 1999 to 2008, General Pervez Musharraf, wrote in his memoir: "It is true that we had assisted in the rise of the #Taliban after the Soviet Union withdrew from #Afghanistan" (p. 202). Image
Even after #Pakistan's General Musharraf disparages the "obscurantist" nature of the #Taliban and the "peace of the graveyard" they brought, he writes: "Nevertheless, we still supported them, for geostrategic reasons", to minimise Indian influence in #Afghanistan (p. 203).
Musharraf tries to create a narrative where #Pakistan was not engaged with the #Taliban at inception, even though the Saudis and UAE were (p. 201-11), which is absurd, and that the ISI had lost its "leverage" over the Taliban after it came to power (pp. 203, 209), equally absurd.
Read 8 tweets
5 Sep
"Though Mr. Biden reversed other Trump policies, he was inclined to go through with the Afghan [withdrawal] ... The military argued for keeping 2,500 troops ... Bagram air base was central to the military's plans" for drones and special forces.…
On 8 May, "The Pentagon wanted a discussion on an emergency evacuation of the embassy and how to plan to remove Afghans at risk, but White House officials asked that those issues be removed from the agenda"

Again, Biden cannot say he didn't know. Biden chose to leave the Afghans
Even Jake Sullivan thought closing Bagram Airbase was a bad idea, and in June there was a pause for four days. But Biden insisted on doing all this with 650 troops in Kabul, so the Pentagon could only protect either Bagram or HKIA, and Biden went with the latter.
Read 7 tweets
4 Sep
#Pakistan's use of #Islamists to interfere in #Afghanistan does not begin in 1979—that jihad project had begun in 1973 and all the Mujahideen groups were formed before the Soviet invasion—but the origins go back to c. 1956 for a cluster of reasons. <Mini Thread>
#Pakistan inherited the #British concept of "strategic depth", i.e. the need for a buffer against the most dangerous imperial rival (#Russia), and thus from foundation sought to make #Afghanistan into a client state.

[@husainhaqqani, "Between Mosque and Military", pp. 164-6]
#pt: Pakistan's move to vassalise #Afghanistan began in earnest in 1956, after the creation of the Pakistani constitution, with its "Objectives Resolution", creating an Islamic Republic, which had impacts not only internally, allowing the state to define "Muslim", but externally.
Read 8 tweets
4 Sep
While #Pakistan's death squads were at work in #Afghanistan, its ambassador in the US, Asad Majeed Khan, told officials "[the Taliban] were not seeking retribution, and in fact were going home to home to assure Afghans that there will not be reprisals"…
"The Biden administration has been unusually circumspect about revealing its contacts and discussions with Pakistan."

Presumably trying to figure out if the ISI and the Haqqani Network are separate entities. (Spoiler: they are not)
Quite the phrasing here from @Politico:

"Pakistan has been more helpful to the United States in its fight against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, but even that cooperation has been questioned," given, you know, Bin Laden being sheltered near Pakistan's premier Army garrison
Read 4 tweets

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