When You’re Wounded and Left on Afghanistan’s Plains Part 2

So, it’s ended for the US and NATO forces the same way that it’s ended for most foreign invaders of
Afghanistan. We’re leaving in defeat without accomplishing any of our stated political goals after 20
years of warfare, death, destruction, blood, toil, tears, and sweat. I suppose that we should count
ourselves lucky that we have successfully extracted more of our forces than the British did in 1842
when only Dr. William Bryden out of approximately 16,000 survived the retreat from Kabul.

The Taliban have prevailed in general and claim to control 85% of Afghanistan as of this writing. The
Afghan Government has stated that is propaganda and disputes the claim. What is more interesting
is that the US military command stopped producing data on who controlled various districts in
Afghanistan back in 2019. In other words, the admission of defeat started some considerable time
before the current developments.

As of this writing, the Taliban have Afghanistan’s second city Kandahar under siege. This is not the
first time in modern history that Kandahar has been besieged. Let’s review the score.

The first major siege of Kandahar was undertaken by a Safavid Army under Hosayn Khan. Kandahar
was controlled by the Mughals. The siege lasted from November 1605 until January 1606 when the
Persians were driven off. Let’s score this one Visitors 0 – Home Team 1.

The second siege of Kandahar lasted from April 1737 until March 1738 when the Iranian Shah, Nader
Shah attacked the forces of the Afghan Hotak dynasty under Hussain Hotaki. The city fell to the
Persian, Turcoman and Bakhtiari forces of Nader Shah and Hussein Hotaki was captured. It should be
noted that Nader Shah pretty much fully destroyed the entire city afterwards in order to control it. It
should also be noted that the Pashtun Hotakis had already brought the Safavid dynasty to an end in
1722 after defeating them at the battle of G. Nader Shah was assassinated on June 20, 1747 and the
Pashtun Ahmad Shah Durrani was proclaimed King of Afghanistan at a Loya Jirga held in Kandahar in
July 1747. So, the Afghans didn’t waste much time getting rid of their Persian overlords. Despite the
temporary setback to Hussein Hotaki the game has to be awarded to the Afghans. Visitors 0- Home
Team 2.

The third siege of Kandahar occurred during the Second Anglo-Afghan War of 1878 -1880. During this
war, Kandahar was besieged by Afghan forces under the command of Ayub Khan who had been
acting as Governor of Herat. While General Sir Frederick Roberts decisively defeated Ayub Khan on
September 1 1880, the British subsequently withdrew from Afghanistan pretty much entirely
confining their occupation to those Pashtun areas of the North West Frontier Province. Whereas this
counts as a technical victory for the British they achieved not a lot in Afghanistan although it
certainly went better for them than it had in 1842. Because of the British withdrawal, I have to score
this one for the Home Team. Visitors 0 – Home Team 3.

The Soviets arrived in Kandahar in 1979 but due to the large population of Popolzai and Barakzai
tribes by 1980, they only controlled about half of the city’s districts. The Soviets were out and the
then Afghan Government forces were ousted by 1992. Visitors 0 – Home Team 4.

And now we come to the last set of foreigners with their half-baked ideas to transform Afghan
society. Kandahar was the last Taliban city to fall to the Americans after their 2001 intervention. And
now we’re gone, and the city is controlled by forces currently still loyal to our proxies in Kabul.
However, recent reports indicate that it is only local police units that are putting up any real
resistance to the Taliban. Although the US is continuing with airstrikes in support of Afghan
Government forces the fall of the city is inevitable. Kabul is next. Was there any point to all of this?