/ 06 July 2021

Taliban gains ground

More than a thousand Afghan troops have fled Afghanistan’s northern Badakhshan province and crossed into Tajikistan as the Taliban continues to seize districts from government forces. Reports say the Taliban’s territorial gains in recent days have come mostly without a fight as government troops find themselves outnumbered. It’s sparked renewed concern about security in the country just days after the withdrawal of military support from the US and other coalition nations. The Islamist militants are now reportedly controlling about a third of the country’s nearly 400 districts.

Under a peace deal brokered last year, the US agreed to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan if the Taliban would work with the Afghan Government and prevent al-Qaeda or any other extremist group from operating from the wartorn country. In April, President Joe Biden set a deadline of 11 September to have all US troops out – the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks on the US that were coordinated from the country. On Friday, the US left Bagram airbase, formerly the centre of its operations in Afghanistan. Germany, Italy and Australia withdrew the last of their personnel from Afghanistan last week. And as the Afghan Government and its forces prepare to go it alone, the Taliban has seized swathes of territory.

That a civil war will follow. And there are concerns about the resurgence of terrorism originating in Afghanistan if the government falls. Around 1,000 mainly US troops could remain on the ground to protect the US embassy, reports say, but that idea is ruffling feathers… Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said no foreign forces should remain after the September deadline. “If they leave behind their forces against the Doha agreement, then, in that case, it will be the decision of our leadership how we proceed,” he said.

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