As the US and Nato prepare to pull out the vast majority of its forces from Afghanistan the Taliban is in the ascendant, a major threat to the central government in Kabul.
Taliban fighters have in recent weeks wrested control of dozens of Afghanistan’s roughly 400 administrative districts, capitalising on the exit of hundreds of US and Nato troops since the final phase of withdrawal began in May. On June 29 the Taliban launched a battle for control of a key highway in the central province of Ghazni. That came just days after its fighters fought government forces for control of the northern city of Kunduz, forcing thousands of civilians to flee.
The speed with which the Taliban has seized control of swaths of Afghan territory has alarmed the government, led by President Ashraf Ghani. It recently launched a ‘National Mobilisation’ effort that provides civilian volunteers with arms to hopefully repel Taliban attacks – an initiative that some analysts worry will resurrect local militias that Kabul may eventually find difficult to control.
A Taliban spokesperson told Al Jazeera that the group has the “right to react” if the US decides to keep a small number of troops in Afghanistan after September 11, President Joe Biden’s deadline for a full withdrawal. With Taliban forces encircling now provincial capitals and peace talks in Qatar deadlocked, a Wall Street Journal report says US intelligence analysts have shortened its estimate on the length of time the central government can survive after US and Nato forces complete their withdrawal.
In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at the Taliban’s continued march across Afghanistan and what lies ahead for communities facing life under its rule.
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