Taliban leadership predicted the fate of the US in Afghanistan better than we did: CIA station chief

Sept 1, 2021: In her show on CNN yesterday, Christiane Amanpore hosted Robert Grenier, the CIA station Chief for Pakistan back in 2001, who says Taliban leadership predicted the fate of the US campaign in Afghanistan more accurately than the US.

Talking about the recent Taliban take over, Amampore asks Grenier, who was there on the ground when the September 11 attacks happened, what his first thoughts were as he witnessed the dismal fate of two super powers in the face of an insurgency in the short space of 32 years.

Her comments refer to when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan  in the 1980s under the pretext of upholding the 1978 friendship treaty and the subsequent conflict and later the War On Terror led by the US to punish Afghanistan and the Taliban for harbouring Al-Qaeda operatives.

In 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, under the pretext of upholding the Soviet-Afghan Friendship Treaty of 1978. As midnight approached, the Soviets organized a massive military airlift into Kabul, involving an estimated 280 transport aircraft and three divisions of almost 8,500 men each.

Thereafter, insurgent groups, as well as smaller Shi’ite and Maoist groups, fought a nine-year guerrilla war against the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and the Soviet Army throughout the 1980s, mostly in the Afghan countryside.

The recent history of the post September 2001 invasion of Afghanistan by the US and the subsequent ignominious withdrawal mirrors the fate of what happened to the Soviet super power at the end of the last century.

In response to Amanpore’s query, Grenier said he recalls the 8 hour long discussions he had with the second in command of the Taliban leadership at the time, Mullah Osmani.

Grenier says he warned Osmani of the consequences of not cooperating with the US and handing over Osmana Bin Laden and other Al Qaeda operatives who according to the US masterminded the September 11 attacks. Grenier says Osmani was warned that the US was going to invade the country unless their demands be met.

According to Grenier, Taliban leader Osmani predicted at the time that if the US went ahead with its plans, they would meet the same end at the Soviets did in Afghanistan at the end of the previous century.

 

Grenier comments on the exchange, admitting Osmani was closer to being right than he as the CIA station chief on the ground was, a frame of reference which Amanpore calls “extraordinary”.

Referring to his vast experience on the ground in the US-Afghanistan conflict, and his knowledge of the military component of the mission and the role of the NGOs, Amanpore asks Grenier what in his opinion has been achieved by the US in 20 long years of war.

According to Grenier, the biggest achievements are the social and economic betterment of the Afghanistan, which according to him bears little resemblance to the country as it was before the US invasion in terms of social development and human rights.

Pointing to the tremendous progress in Women empowerment, Grenier says it is the biggest change in Afghanistan, saying it happened “at times because of and at times in spite of the US involvement.”

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