Taliban’s Afghanistan takeover not inevitable: US experts

Kabul might be captured by the Taliban inside a yr as US forces withdraw from Afghanistan, however its fall is not inevitable and can rely on a a lot better-run Afghan protection drive, US experts say.

As worries mount that the insurgents might retake energy within the war-torn nation, experts with years of expertise in Afghanistan warned that poor management, corruption and ethnic divisions within the Afghan safety forces supply the Taliban benefits, and that a lot depends upon whether or not President Ashraf Ghani’s troubled authorities can maintain.

The rebels have taken management of dozens of Afghanistan’s 400 districts because the September deadline for withdrawal was set by Washington, the place Ghani is ready to satisfy with US counterpart Joe Biden on the White House on Friday.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday {that a} new US intelligence report estimates that the Taliban might win management of the nation’s capital inside six to 12 months of the US pullout.

Taliban not unstoppable

“There’s really no denying the size and the speed of the kind of territorial losses the government has suffered,” Andrew Watkins of the International Crisis Group instructed AFP.

But “the fall of Kabul is not imminent. The Taliban is not an unstoppable military juggernaut,” he mentioned.

Most of the districts the insurgents have claimed are “out in rural areas of the country that have little strategic or military value. There’s no military need for either actor to be out there.”

Yet some are on transport routes and round provincial capitals.

“The Taliban are strengthening their chokeholds around major cities. They’re not necessarily in the near-term future going to try and take those cities,” Watkins mentioned.

Afghan safety forces have misplaced the assist of US air strikes on the Taliban previously yr, and their very own air drive might be weakened if 1000’s of US civilian contractors, who maintain Afghan plane flying, depart by September.

Carter Malkasian, a former Pentagon official and now an Afghanistan safety professional on the CNA consultancy, mentioned it’s only “remotely possible” that the Taliban sweep into Kabul within the close to time period.

However, he mentioned, such an consequence is conceivable inside a yr, as regional capitals are not at present underneath risk.

“If you see the losses of big cities like Kandahar city or Mazar-i-Sharif, then I would start worrying about Kabul falling,” mentioned Malkasian.

Aim to demoralize

James Dobbins, the previous US Special Representative for Afghanistan and now an professional at Rand Corporation, mentioned he expects combating to escalate.

Right now, he mentioned, “the Taliban have certain advantages. But their advantages generally apply in the countryside where their supporters are.”

The cities are extra of a problem for the group than once they gained energy in 1996: the nation is extra populous, urbanized, higher educated, higher linked and extra sophisticated to handle.

“They don’t have many supporters in the cities where all the infrastructure is,” he mentioned.

“Kabul is now a city of five million people. It’s not what it was the last time the Taliban captured it. And I think they’d have a hard time controlling it.”

Watkins mentioned the Afghan army is doing what it must do, shrinking its footprint to concentrate on defending inhabitants facilities and main provide arteries.

And a current shakeup of the management might enhance its operations.

“The Afghan military has to demonstrate a strength and a resilience that makes the Taliban reconsider trying to take over the country by force,” he mentioned.

However, he added, “The territorial losses the Afghan government has suffered are going to wind up having political impact. There is a potential of freaking out everyone, from rank and file Afghan soldiers and policemen . . . all the way up to the highest political level,” Watkins mentioned.

Gaining the higher hand

Malkasian mentioned that the Taliban are centered as a lot on eroding public morale and confidence within the authorities as they’re on gaining the higher hand in negotiations on a future authorities.

“Ultimately what they want to do is not to have to fight their way tooth and nail to Kabul or to conquer the rest of the country,” he mentioned.

“What they would like to see is for the Afghan government to fall apart, so that they can step into a vacuum.”

Malkasian insisted that peace talks are essential to the insurgents, to lend them credibility in the event that they do find yourself assuming energy.

“The Taliban do care about international recognition. They do care about receiving future assistance,” he famous.

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