Afghan President Ashraf Ghani replaces the head of the Army and flies to Mazar-e-Sharif, the main city in the north, which has been surrounded
After 20 years of training supervised by the United States and the rest of the countries of the international coalition, the Afghan Army is unable to stop the advance of the Taliban who already control nine of the 34 provincial capitals of the country. The collapse of an armed forces accustomed to fighting with the omnipresent US air support has forced the authorities to make a move and turn to the old warlords and to create urban militias as an emergency measure to contain the enemy.
The president, Ashraf Ghani, left his palace and flew to Mazar-e-Sharif, the main city in the north, which has been surrounded by insurgents. Ghani met with two of the icons of the Northern Alliance – the great coalition of forces that was formed to end the Taliban in 2001 – such as Mohamed Atta Noor and Abdul Rachid Dostum, who promised to resist “to the last drop of blood ». The increasingly isolated president also decided to change the chief of the Armed Forces, Wali Ahmadzai, and put Hibatulá Alizai, until now commander of the special forces, in his place.
Ghani’s desperate moves came accompanied by the announcement by Interior Minister General Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal that a plan has been put in place to arm local militias to help secure the main roads and streets of the provincial capitals.
The Afghan Army is crumbling and insurgents have taken control of two new provincial capitals in the last 48 hours. The white flag of the Emirate now also flies in Farah, in the south-west of the country, and Pul-e-Khumri, in the north, and the offensive is aimed at Mazar-e-Sharif. Countries like India have ordered the closure of their consulates in the city and have evacuated their citizens before the imminence of the assault. While the United States accelerates its withdrawal, which it expects to complete on the 31st, and in Doha the sterile contacts to achieve a ceasefire take place, the Taliban have conquered eight provincial capitals in less than a week and with hardly any combat.
With their great strongholds secured along the border with Pakistan, the insurgents have focused the first part of their offensive in the north and the successes achieved now allow them to reinforce operations in the center and south, with Kabul always at the point of look as the end goal. The recent victory in Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan, allows them to bring the fighting closer to only 150 kilometers from the Afghan capital and thanks to the previous conquests of Kunduz and Takhar they have under their control the strategic highway that connects the capital with Badakhshan . European Union sources consulted by the Reuters agency assure that 65% of the territory is already in the hands of the Emirate and they raise the number of internally displaced people caused by the fighting to 400,000.
The head of the Afghan Eye podcast, Sangar Paykhar, recalls that in the last two decades most of the fighting has occurred in the south and that is why the bulk of the Afghan forces are concentrated there, especially the special forces, which lead the fight against the Taliban. The government “trusted the warlords and their militias to secure the north, but was unaware of the corruption, the current abuse of power, and that the regular soldiers were underpaid and out of supply,” says Paykhar, for who the Taliban can take over the entire country “before the end of the year.”
Among the victories in recent days there are some of enormous strategic weight such as Kunduz and there are others less strategic, but very symbolic, such as Faizabad, a small city in the Pamirs of just 30,000 inhabitants that the Taliban never controlled when they established their Emirate before. 2001.
Biden: “They have to come together and fight for themselves”
Everyone knew that the withdrawal of the United States and NATO from Afghanistan would be a gain for the Taliban, but not even American intelligence imagined the speed at which the country is falling into their hands. According to Pentagon sources published by various media, Kabul, the capital, could fall in less than three months, reports Mercedes Gallego.
The CIA had estimated that the Taliban could capture the heart of Afghan power in six months and, according to their officials, they have already cut those expectations in half, but are not willing to concede that the country will have a Taliban government again before this. 9/11, the deadline set by the Joe Biden government to completely leave the country. More than 300,000 forces trained by the United States and NATO defend the capital, without that seems a guarantee of anything. Villages have fallen to a dozen Taliban, because what seems to be failing is not strength but conviction. That is why the US president says he does not regret his decision to withdraw.
“We have spent more than 1 billion dollars in 20 years,” he intoned on Tuesday when questioned. “We have trained and equipped more than 300,000 Afghan forces with modern weapons. We have lost thousands of our own and many thousands more have been injured. They have to fight for themselves, they have to unite and fight for their country! ”He despaired. Since the US troops left the Bagram base last month, the US has only left in Afghanistan the CIA and the power of the missiles that the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier can launch from the Arabian Sea.