The Taliban have withdrawn from Kunduz:
The Taliban announced that they had withdrawn completely from the northern city of Kunduz on Tuesday, ending their first takeover of any Afghan city during the last 14 years of war.
The bad news, of course, is that they were able to take the city in the first place. In a pattern reminiscent of Iraq, a much-smaller jihadist force initially defeated Afghanistan security forces. But unlike Iraq (when ISIS struck and Mosul fell), American forces are still in-country, and they provided indispensable assistance:
Although Afghan forces found themselves back in control in Kunduz on Tuesday, it was only after days of assistance from American airstrikes and Special Operations ground forces who were in the center of the fighting, according to Afghan government and military officials.
Those forces are in Afghanistan as part of the 17,000-member NATO contingent in the country, including 9,800 Americans. But they are supposed to be concentrating on training and counterterrorism operations against extremists like Al Qaeda. Instead, they have repeatedly been called into action to get government forces out of trouble.
The brutal reality is that for the foreseeable future, Afghan forces will only be able to take on the Taliban with NATO assistance, and the fastest way to ensure Afghan collapse will be to replicate the Iraq pullout. No one is happy that American forces are still necessary, but we cannot allow key cities to fall under jihadist control. Our commitment must not waver so long as our enemies endure.