As we have seen only too clearly, Kabul fell to the Taliban more quickly than many observers expected. It may in part have something to do with the way in which people in and around Kabul were being actively demoralised by Taliban propaganda.
Word reached Australians keeping a remote eye on former staff and embassy guards that the Taliban was issuing statements that on one day stated they had about 10,000 embedded in Kabul, and a video of a Taliban spokesman stating the group had 30,000 fighters hiding in Kabul awaiting orders.
What is important about these two messages is that they were being sent around at a time when the area around Kabul was already tense and former embassy staff and guards were deeply concerned; hiding in their residences and nervous about their prospects of survival if in fact the propaganda turned out to be fact.
Bear in mind that residents in Kabul receiving these messages would already have been aware of filmed atrocities that had taken place in other larger cities and smaller provinces across the country. That would have further justified the sense of helplessness in their minds.
Another piece of information being circulated among people who worked across Western embassies emerged on the Saturday prior to the advance on Kabul. It was said that Kabul had 60 hours before the Taliban would arrive in the city. The Taliban came into the city within half that time.
Afghans with DFAT scholarships
There is a cohort of people who have worked in senior roles across the Australian government sector in Afghanistan who had scholarships from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. They are among the numbers who became fearful for their lives scrambling to flee Afghanistan. Western qualifications are not things the Taliban regards with indifference.
On a lighter, more pleasant note — hats off to ACT Health. Not only are they a delight to deal with and highly efficient when getting your COVID jabs, they give you an actual Chupa Chup after they stab you with a needle. Other jurisdictions hand out a mere cheap, generic, flat lollipop. Some only give you a sticker and a pat on the back as they send you on your way. Not in the nation’s capital. It’s a big, fat, round Chupa Chup as a thank you for protecting yourself and those around you. Or is it that the smart folk in Canberra have figured out that it’s easier to put the 5G microchip inside a big lollipop than inside a small needle?