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Afghanistan: Taliban’s Going For Broke, As It Continues To Seize Regional Capitals One After The Other

The Oasis Reporters

August 14, 2021

Lyoyd Austin welcomes American troops back home.

Watchers of Afghanistan especially after the pull-out of American forces understand that it is hard to be optimistic at the moment. Peace talks have stalled. The government is wobbly and those who worked with the American backed government and the occupation, either as civilian servants are not only nervous, but jittery and there’s a reason:

The Taliban is back. Not only the national government, but it’s lame duck army is frightened. This has emboldened the Islamist Taliban to move like lightening, taking one regional capital after the other without resistance.

A Taliban delegation attends peace talks half heartedly.

Foreign policy magazine reports that the Taliban has seized three more capitals. U.S. Afghanistan envoy Zalmay Khalilzad told the Taliban that the international community wouldn’t recognize a government that seizes power through force on Tuesday, warning the militant group on the same day it took its seventh, eighth, and ninth provincial capitals in less than a week.

Khalilzad has traveled to Doha in an attempt to convince the Taliban to continue peace negotiations with the Afghan government. Although a Taliban spokesperson has said the group is committed to the peace talks, the group has continued its rapid offensive across Afghanistan, and now controls around 65 percent of the country, according to an EU estimate.

On Monday last week, the Taliban had continued its advance across Afghanistan with the capture of Aibak, the capital of Samangan province, marking the sixth provincial capital to fall to the group in less than a week.

Monday’s seizure was hastened by the defection of Asif Azimi—a prominent warlord with ties to the now defunct Northern Alliance—a worrying sign of shifting allegiances due to a rapidly changing situation on the ground.

In the face of the urban onslaught, the Biden administration has held firm to its plans to remove all combat troops by the end of the month.

Speaking last week Monday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby left responsibility with the Afghan government, citing the Afghan Air Force’s capabilities. “They have a lot of advantages that the Taliban don’t have … Now, they have to use those advantages,” Kirby said. “They have to exert that leadership. And it’s got to come both from the political and from the military side.”

A lack of direction from the Afghan government is stoking panic among Afghanistan’s citizenry. Writing for Foreign Policy from Kabul on Monday, Lynne O’Donnell reported on the country’s internal exodus—putting pressure on the capital as nearly 3 million more people are expected to seek refuge there in the coming months.
Afghan president, Ghani seems to be in trouble. Foreign Policy Magazine says that as the fighting drags on, pressure is building on President Ashraf Ghani to get a handle on the situation or get out of the way.

It also quotes Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal of painting a picture of an isolated leader whose best hope lies in rallying support from anti-Taliban groups ahead of an all-out civil war. Presidential spokesman Mohammad Amiri on Monday said Ghani would “mobilize and arm” local people to take the fight to the Taliban.

Quoting a Reuters report, France24 says Southern Nimroz Province capital, Zaranj fell to the hard-line islamists because of a lack of reinforcements from the government.

Fighting to reimpose strict Islamic law after their 2001 ousting by U.S.-led forces, the Taliban have intensified their campaign to defeat the US backed government as foreign forces complete their withdrawal after 20 years of war.
The insurgents have taken dozens of districts and border crossings in recent months and put pressure on several provincial capitals, including Herat in the west and Kandahar in the south, as foreign troops withdraw.

Zaranj was the first provincial capital to fall to the group since the United States reached a deal with the Taliban in February 2020 for a U.S. troop pullout. A local source said the Taliban had seized the governor’s office, the police headquarters and an encampment near the Iranian border.

Afghan women are worried about the future.

In Kabul, Taliban has been killing government workers, a sure event to instill more fear in those suspected and known to be friends to America.
Women also believe that all their hard won rights to go to school, work, travel etc would be rolled back. Many Afghans feel under severe pressure to escape from the country.

Compiled by Greg Abolo with reports from Reuters, Foreign Policy, France 24 and other media outlets

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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