“We will bypass Kabul like a python”: The Taliban set their sights on the capital

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Faizabad is a rugged outpost in the Hindu Kush Mountains in northeastern Afghanistan. It has long been a base for resistance to the Taliban and never fell into the hands of Islamists when it ruled in the 1990s.

But the town is 12 of them Afghanistan Provincial capital cities, accounting for one third of the total, Capture this week After the U.S. troops hurriedly withdrew, the Taliban launched a lightning attack that changed the balance of power in Afghanistan. Islamic radicals now control Herat and are about to occupy the country’s third and second largest cities, Kandahar.

Analysts, diplomats and security officials said they underestimated the Taliban’s military strategy. The Taliban defeated a better-equipped Afghan army and outnumbered them by at least three to one.

As Taliban fighters surround Kabul, there is little hope that the Taliban will seek a political solution. The insurgents want to force President Ashraf Ghani to surrender or they will launch a bloody attack on the capital, which has about 4.5 million inhabitants.

As the United States withdrew from the chaos, militant groups swept across the countryside, besieging Herat and Kandahar in the south and west one after another. Attack north, A long-standing anti-Taliban resistance fortress. The demoralized Afghan army surrendered or fled, leaving behind weapons and supplies.The number of insurgents is supported Signed agreement According to the agreement signed by the Trump administration to bypass the Ghani government in 2020, prisoners were released with the United States.

According to a 2020 prisoner release agreement in the United States, the number of insurgents is supported Signed transaction The Trump administration and the Taliban bypass the Ghani government.

“I have never seen the Taliban’s strategy in the past few weeks to capture these cities,” said Ahmed Rashid, a writer who has followed the Taliban for decades.

Nearly 20 years after the Taliban were forced to step down by the United States, militants are closer than ever to overthrowing Ghani’s democratic government and establishing a cruel Islamic emirate.Observers warned that the Taliban will Extermination rights Women, and may once again turn Afghanistan into a safe haven for international terrorism-organizations such as Al-Qaida and the Islamic State already exist in the country.

A US defense official told the Financial Times that “the assessment has deteriorated” and Kabul is at risk of a direct attack. “They may also be surprised by the speed of its development.”

Mohamed Zadran, a senior member of the Taliban in Paktia Province in the south of the country, said: “We will bypass Kabul like a python. Control of Kabul and the Afghan regime is inevitable, maybe in a few weeks.”

Ghani’s Western allies reacted weakly, sparking concerns about snowballing humanitarian and international immigration crises.Joe Biden this week Reiterate He promised to withdraw the remaining US troops before the end of this month. He said that now is the time for the Afghans to “fight for themselves.”

Taliban flags on the pedestal of the main city square in Puli Khumri
The Taliban took advantage of the chaos after the U.S. withdrawal to occupy more than a dozen provincial capitals, including Pulikumri © AFP via Getty Images

But critics believe that the withdrawal has ended any chance for peace.

“The Taliban’s strategy for the past two weeks is simply brilliant,” a Western diplomat said. “They know the government will go all out [to defend southern cities], So they hit three at the same time. Once put into reserves, they will attack the entire north at the same time. “

The diplomat added: “The Taliban want peace and there has been a huge smoke screen. All they want is a complete victory.”

The Taliban captured Puli Khumri and Ghazni, allowing them to control the highway from the north and southwest to Kabul. The insurgents said they wanted to occupy the city before the cold winter slowed the speed of fighting.

“The Afghan army must defend many different cities, critical infrastructure locations, and critical routes,” said a former senior US intelligence official. “The Taliban can gather where it chooses, and it’s very effective in doing so.”

any Battle of Kabul This is expected to be tougher for the Taliban and even more deadly for civilians. The elite special forces in Afghanistan are too scattered when defending the capital city, but will gather in the capital.

A member of the Taliban leadership committee admitted that “the elite of the Afghan army will leave the rest of the country and will gather to fight for Kabul”.

U.S. and Afghan soldiers waving the Afghan flag during the handover ceremony held at the Anthony camp in Helmand Province
The U.S. spends billions of dollars to train the Afghan army © Afghan Ministry of Defense Press Office AP

most Responsible for the loss It has been placed on the Afghan army, and the Afghan army retreats without a fight in many places. Analysts said that although the United States’ training and equipment are worth billions of dollars, its capabilities are still being weakened by corruption and mismanagement.

The government is also struggling. On Wednesday, it replaced the army chief of staff for the third time in a year, and the finance minister resigned and left the country. “It’s hard to imagine that the Ghani government will continue to be in power [for long],” said Abdul Basit, a retired Pakistani diplomat.

Javid Faisal, an adviser to the Afghan government, said the country is being abandoned by its allies. “At this critical moment, Afghanistan cannot be left alone,” he said.

“NATO and the US military with all their equipment can’t win. How can they expect the Afghan army to do it all on their own?” He added. “The Afghan army is still determined… they are well trained and will continue to protect their country.”

An Afghan army commando stands guard in a car in Herat Province

Joe Biden says it’s time for Afghans to “fight for themselves” © Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images

The government blames the success of the Taliban Neighboring PakistanFor decades, it has been accused of quietly providing asylum and assistance to Islamists while promising to support the United States. A senior Pakistani Foreign Ministry official refuted the claim that it was a “villain.”

The U.S. defense official said that the Taliban has strengthened in every victory, supplementing equipment from every provincial military headquarters it occupies.

“Afghans need regular troops to show their position. So far, they have not been able to do it,” the official said.

Government adviser Faisal warned the international community that if no action is taken, there will be a humanitarian crisis. “If the violence continues, if the Afghans are forced to abandon their homes, it will be a loss to our neighbors, the region and the world.”

Additional report by Sami Yousafzai in London

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