AFGHANISTAN IS FALLING: Afghanistan Chronicle–August 10, 2021


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Afghanistan is falling to the Taliban.

As we observed on July 5, 2021, after the announcement of the total U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the elected government of Asraf Ghani could fall quickly.


“The Afghan government could fall quickly,” The Trenchant Observer, July 5, 2021 (updated July 21, 2021).

For the latest updates and analysis, see

1) Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Najim Rahim, and Taimoor Shah,”Taliban Overrun 2 More Provincial Capitals, Increasing Pressure on Kabul; Local officials said insurgents had flooded Pul-i-Khumri in the north and Farah in western Afghanistan, the seventh and eighth cities to be overtaken in five day,” New York Times, August 10, 2021 (Updated 3:53 p.m. ET);

2) Ben Hubbard, “As U.S. Leaves Afghanistan, History Suggests It May Struggle to Stay Out; A decade ago, a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq opened the door for the Islamic State. Will the withdrawal from Afghanistan do the same for the Taliban?” New York Times, August 10, 2021 (updated at 11:45 a.m. ET).

3) Akhtar Mohammad Makoii (in Herat) and Luke Harding, “Taliban capture sixth provincial capital in northern Afghanistan; Fighters overrun Aibak without meeting resistance, leaving pro-government forces in region cut off,” The Guardian, August 9, 2021 (18.20 BST

4) Amanda Mars (Washington), “El repliegue de EE UU deja vía libre a los talibanes para acelerar su ofensiva en Afganistán
El grupo radical se hace con el control de seis ciudades en menos de una semana, mientras el Pentágono y la OTAN mantienen inalterable su plan de salida,” El País, 10 Agosto 2021 (8:23 a.m.)

Sometimes a picture or a graphic is worth a thousand words. See the map in Amanda Mars’ article, above, for a dramatic view of the gains made by the Taliban during the last week, and also since the announcement of the total U.S. withdrawal in May.

What can be done?

Given President Biden’s disastrous decision to withdraw completely from Afghanistan, and his doggedly stubborn refusal to reconsider his decision in view of recent events on the ground, the U.S. is not likely to lead an effort to save the elected government of Ashraf Ghani. But the U.S. could follow.

Perhaps the best hope for the people of Afghanistan, who Biden and the U.S. have abandoned to the Taliban, is for the establishment of a U.N. military force under U.N. Security Council resolutions to be adopted

This course of action would be consistent with previous Security Council resolutions and U.N. actions. From 2002, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has formed an integral part of U.S. and international efforts to build and strengthen democracy in Afghanistan.

The new U.N. effort might be led by European countries and joined by others, including those which had troops stationed in Afghanistan as part of the international coalition led by the U.S.

The Trenchant Observer

The Trenchant Observer has been following Afghanistan closely since 2005, when he worked in Kabul as the Team Leader of group of six lawyers charged with advising the government on modernizing its criminal justice process to better meet international human rights standards.

Use the Search box to the right to find previous articles by the Trenchant Observer on Afghanistan, going back to 2009.

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.