Taliban continues celebrations with a large military parade in Kandahar

September 03, 2021
The Taliban continued their victory celebrations Wednesday with a military parade through Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. — courtesy photo
The Taliban continued their victory celebrations Wednesday with a military parade through Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. — courtesy photo

KABUL — The Taliban continued their victory celebrations Wednesday with a military parade through Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. They paraded dozens of American made armored vehicles during the celebrations.

Kandahar is the spiritual heartland of the Taliban, and the group's capital during its 1996-2001 rule. In videos posted on social media, the Taliban showed off dozens of American-made armored vehicles that they had seized, along with new weapons, after the hardware was left behind by fleeing Afghan forces.

Fighters waved white Taliban flags from Humvees and armored SUVs, many of the vehicles in near perfect "like new" condition. The Taliban also organized an air display with a recently seized Black Hawk helicopter flying past the militants along the road while also trailing a white Taliban flag.

Meanwhile, a team of Qatari technical experts arrived in Kabul on Wednesday to discuss reopening the city’s airport, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN.

The source said that the technical team traveled to Kabul on a Qatari jet at the request of the Taliban, and that while no final agreement had yet been reached, “talks are still ongoing at the level of security and operation.”

“The objective is to resume flights in and out of Kabul for humanitarian assistance and freedom of movement in a safe and secure manner.”

The United States may have withdrawn from the battlefield in Afghanistan, but the struggle for power and influence there is ongoing, CNN Political Analyst Josh Rogin explained.

“The void is being filled by a number of actors including terrorist groups such as Al Qaida and the Haqqani group, including China and Russia, including Iran and Turkey, and all of that has implications, not just for what happens inside of Afghanistan, but for what happens in the region and around the world as well,” Rogin said.

“We know from past history that for the militants victory equals recruitment. We know that when they have a country, that country can become a safe haven for attacks in other places in the world,” he continued.

“And we know that Afghanistan is still a place where empires go to secure minerals and strategic advantage. So the game in Afghanistan is afoot.”

Rogin said that while the US won’t be involved as heavily in Afghanistan going forward “pretty much every other country in the world is still playing.”

US President Joe Biden defended his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan on Tuesday, saying the departure indicated the end of "an era of major military operations to remake other countries."

Earlier Wednesday, CNN's Nic Robertson reported there was a lot of diplomacy under way with the Taliban. The German and Pakistani foreign ministers met in Islamabad on Tuesday, while the Dutch foreign minister was visiting.

"A lot of effort is being applied to the Taliban to try to make sure that those other Afghans who were associated with NATO inside Afghanistan who want to leave, those other American citizens who are in Afghanistan who want to leave, are able to leave," Robertson said.

He added that the next steps are dependent on the formation of the Taliban government. "The longer the Taliban waits to announce that government, the more the country is in limbo, the more the economy is hurt and the greater the possibility of people wanting to flee the country."

As we learn of the secret arrangement between the US and Taliban to escort Americans to Kabul airport, we’re also finding out about ongoing talks between the militant group and UK officials. Representatives are holding discussions over securing safe passage out of Afghanistan for British and Afghan nationals still in the country.

A Downing Street spokesperson told CNN that a special representative for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was involved in talks with senior Taliban representatives in Doha on Tuesday.

“The Prime Minister’s Special Representative Simon Gass has travelled to Doha and is meeting with senior Taliban representatives to underline the importance of safe passage out of Afghanistan for British nationals, and those Afghans who have worked with us over the past twenty years," the Downing Street spokesperson said.

In another development, the Japanese government has said it is going to continue communicating with the Taliban and it is willing to cooperate with the group to help those who wish to leave Afghanistan.

“Long term and continuous humanitarian support will become necessary. As well as closely watching the situation in Afghanistan in the future, we’d like to work on humanitarian support by coordinating with related countries," Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said during a presser on Tuesday.

The country's mission to evacuate Japanese nationals and others from Afghanistan amid a worsening security situation has concluded, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi announced Tuesday.

However, the government says more than 500 Afghans hoping to leave are still in the country, according to broadcaster NHK.

“The Japanese government will work with countries like the US to ensure the safety of other Japanese nationals, local staffers and those who helped Japan. If they wish to leave Afghanistan for legitimate reasons, we are willing to help them,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said. — CNN

September 03, 2021
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