The Government of Afghanistan calls civilians to arms to confront the Taliban

The Government of Afghanistan calls civilians to arms to confront the Taliban

Residents of the Kohistan comarca, in the Afghan province of Kapisa, have formed a militia to defend themselves against the Taliban.HEDAYATULLAH AMID / EFE

The Government of Afghanistan has called to arms to create a popular militia with which to confront the Taliban guerrilla, which is taking advantage of the departure of international troops to conquer territory. What’s more, the head of state, Ashraf Ghani, who is meeting with US President Joe Biden at the White House on Friday, tries to obtain guarantees that Washington will continue to support the Afghan security forces after the withdrawal. Both want to prevent the Asian country from becoming a haven for terrorist groups, such as when the taliban were in power.

Biden’s decision to make his own the retirement commitment of its predecessor and ending 20 years of military presence in Afghanistan has given wings to an already burgeoning Taliban. Some thirty rural regions have fallen into their hands since May 1, when the US began closing some bases and transferring others to the Afghan Army with the aim that, as announced by the president, all troops return home. for 9/11, the anniversary of the Al Qaeda attacks that motivated the intervention.

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Often times, the change of hands of the barracks that represent the tenuous presence of the state has been done with little exchange of fire, with the surrender or flight of demoralized and poorly paid security forces. This is what happened earlier this week when insurgents captured the town of Shir Khan Bandar, on the border with Tajikistan. Customs employees as well as policemen and soldiers crossed into the neighboring country. The Tajik border guard said it had admitted 134 Afghan officials. The Taliban, who from there are 50 kilometers from Kunduz (the sixth city in the country with 350,000 inhabitants), seized armored vehicles, weapons and ammunition.

Between January and May this year, the fighting has forced 191,000 people to flee their homes, according to the latest data from the UN humanitarian agency. Most of them remain displaced within the country without the possibility of returning to their places of origin.

Faced with mounting pressure from the insurgents, Defense Minister Bismillah Mohammadi, just appointed on the 19th, has asked civilians to mobilize to stop their advance. Videos shared on social media, including the Interior Ministry’s Twitter account, show groups of civilians receiving weapons and patrolling cities in various parts of the country, including the northern provinces of Takhar, Kapisa, Baghlan, Jowzjan and Balkh, where the Taliban have concentrated their recent attacks. In some images, women are even seen brandishing Kalashnikov.

The measure, more symbolic than effective, gives an idea of the despair that begins to seize Afghan officials. A US intelligence report estimates that the Taliban could take control of Kabul, the capital, within six to 12 months of the departure of US troops, according to the business daily. The Wall Street Journal last Wednesday.

Ghani wants help to avoid it. The United States insists that withdrawal does not mean the end of support and has promised to maintain diplomatic, economic and humanitarian aid. But a key piece of that puzzle, the Qatari intra-Afghan talks, does not advance. The Taliban have not even presented a written peace proposal that could serve as the basis for negotiating a shared future. Having achieved their goal of seeing foreign troops leave, they have no incentive to keep talking or to make concessions.

However, as analyst Brian M. Downing recalls in his latest analysis, “the main reason for the success of the Taliban is corruption and ineptitude of the Kabul government [cuyos] officials, from the capital to the regions, use their positions to enrich themselves, their friends and their families ”. The same problem corrodes the security forces, where ethnic loyalty outweighs competition (which explains the poor performance of the billions spent by the United States on their training and manning).

The Taliban have called Ghani’s visit “useless”, who is traveling accompanied by his political rival and president of the High Council for National Reconciliation. To contact Abdullah. “They will talk to US officials to ensure their power and their personal interests. It will not benefit Afghanistan, ”Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid was quoted as saying by Reuters.

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