Hours before the U.S. withdraw from Afghanistan the Taliban saved Americans from a terrorist attack. They stopped a bus rigged with explosives headed toward Kabul airport. According to an unnamed U.S. citizen on the bus, after the stop Taliban soldiers forced passengers off the bus. After that, soldiers said it was rigged with explosives. There were two possible suicide attackers on board.
A senior U.S. congressional aid said the Taliban were instrumental. Without pulling the bus over, a new attack at Kabul airport could have killed more people.
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Taliban more helpful than expected
Senior defense officials have said the amount of assistance received from the Taliban goes beyond what officials have said in public. The Taliban, who fought the U.S. for 20 years escorted Americans and Afghan nationals through checkpoints, cleared streets for safety and even helped carry luggage at the airport.
“I do know this, just speaking purely practically, as a professional, they helped us secure the airfield. Not perfectly, but they gave it a very good effort, and it was actually significantly helpful to us, particularly here in the end” said Marine General Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command.
On August 26th an ISIS suicide bomber killed 13 U.S. citizens and many Afghan civilians on the southside of the Kabul airport. At a briefing after the attack General McKenzie said the Taliban had prevented some attacks and the U.S.
Why cooperate now?
Why is the Taliban being so cooperative? For the time being, the Taliban and U.S. share a common goal.
Above all, the Taliban wants the U.S. out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible, so being cooperative helps achieve that goal and prevents any cause for the U.S. to stay. Prior to withdrawal of forces, U.S. officials negotiated safe passage of Americans and Afghans. Many Americans were unsure whether the Taliban would keep its promises–though the Taliban likely fears potential retaliation from U.S. forces.
Why has the Taliban saved Americans
The U.S. and Taliban both share an enemy in ISIS. After Americans leave, Taliban and ISIS will probably clash regularly, fighting over who gets to control parts of Afghanistan.
Therefore, stopping the ISIS attacks, while helpful to the U.S. and evacuating Afghan citizens, gives the Taliban an opportunity to assert their control over the country. In conclusion, it’s good optics for the Taliban, who will likely be forced into future confrontations with the U.S., China, and Russia over strategic resources in Afghanistan.