David Loyn

David Loyn

David Loyn is a visiting senior fellow in the War Studies Department at King’s College, London and author of ‘The Long War – the Inside Story of America in Afghanistan’.

The SAS fought a dirty war in Afghanistan

The SAS blocked UK visas for Afghan special forces soldiers, perhaps fearing that they would be able to produce evidence incriminating the SAS in the shooting of unarmed civilians. That was the striking implication of a BBC Panorama investigation this week – with the Ministry of Defence confirming that it is undertaking a review of 2,000 cases where Afghan

Tobias Ellwood is being the Taliban’s useful idiot 

It has now been almost two years since the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan. In recent weeks, a number of international assessments have been published looking at the state of the country under their leadership.  One UN report looked at the potential for terrorism in a country where ‘terrorist groups enjoy greater freedom… than at

Why Iran and the Taliban are clashing over water

Remarkable as it may sound, it looks as if a border skirmish this week between Iranian and Afghan border guards, which involved at least three deaths, was about water. This is not the first border clash as tensions grow over scarce water resources between Iran and the 20-month old Taliban regime, although it is the

Is the West preparing to sell out the Afghan people again?

While the Taliban continues to double down against women in Afghanistan, the UN appears to be wanting to normalise relations with them. Women in the country are already blocked from almost all jobs and all education. Yet a week after the extremist group barred females from working for the UN, the organisation’s deputy secretary general

Joe Biden’s shameful excuses for the Afghan withdrawal fiasco

It is an iron law that if governments put out important documents just ahead of a long holiday weekend there is something fishy about them. So it was with President Biden’s decision to release a report on America’s 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan on Thursday, before the Easter weekend. The White House press corps had about

Afghanistan, one year on

Afghan women’s meetings on Zoom with their supporters outside the country often now end in tears as the stories of Taliban rule are too hard to bear. One prominent regional woman’s leader was beaten by her own younger brother. He said she could not go out on her own without a male relative and needed

Al-Zawahiri’s killing exposes the US’s shame in Afghanistan

Sherpur District, to the north of central Kabul, where al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed, lies at the western end of a huge former military base where British forces were besieged in the winter of 1879, during the second Anglo-Afghan war. The parade ground, still a wide open area until 2001, was quickly built over by

Could an uprising succeed against the Taliban?

The social media accounts of the new so-called ‘National Resistance Front’ (NRF) in Afghanistan give the impression of a raging insurgency already taking place against the Taliban. The talk is of ‘intense clashes’, with the Taliban suffering ‘heavy casualties.’ There are exaggerated accounts of running battles and successful ambushes against the Taliban across the north

How Muslim are the Taliban?

I first met Haji Mir, a tribal elder from Helmand, in Herat in western Afghanistan in 2002, not long after the fall of the Taliban. He had come to Herat to ensure the safety of Helmand under the new American-backed administration. At the end of the trip he protected us when we were stoned by

How stable is the Taliban government?

Some western governments and media have been involved in a collective act of wishful thinking in recent months over the Taliban—believing them somehow to be ‘moderate’ and on the way to forming an inclusive government. The idea began with their elevation of status as a partner in negotiations with the US in Doha. They were

The West is being played by the Taliban

There have been some curious juxtapositions in Afghanistan this week. On the one hand, the under-19 Afghan cricket team was allowed to leave for a planned tournament in Bangladesh, as if things were normal, while on the other there was a sinister military parade taking place in Kandahar this week. After the lines of horsemen

How the Taliban will govern Afghanistan

When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan for five years in the late 1990s, the key power lay in a modest room in a house in Kandahar. There was just a simple iron bedstead and a box as furniture, and no door but a curtain separating it from the rest of the house. Sitting on rugs on

Panjshir valley and the last resistance to the Taliban

The Panjshir valley, about three hours’ drive north of Kabul, has a mythical hold on the Afghan imagination. It is a natural fortress, a long lemon-shaped valley surrounded on three sides by 13,000-foot-high mountain ridges, with the only entrance a narrow road in a deep winding gorge to the south, cut by the Panjshir river.

What went wrong in Afghanistan

When Joe Biden ordered the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, he was able to say that they’d leave behind a formidable Afghan army with 300,000 troops, paramilitary police and some 30,000 special forces. That is, on paper, more than enough to secure the country against an insurgency if skilfully deployed and well motivated. The best of these troops