Afghan Taliban stronger than ever after a yr of takeover | The Express Tribune



A yr after returning to energy in Afghanistan, the Taliban are a stronger army drive than ever, however a menace to their regime stays.

To tighten its grip, the Taliban have pushed 1000’s of fighters into the Panshjir Valley, the one conventional army menace the group has confronted since its takeover.

The Sundar Valley, positioned in northeastern Afghanistan, was for many years a stronghold of resistance towards outdoors forces, and the birthplace of the National Resistance Front (NRF).

On the opposite aspect of the spectrum, the Islamic State-Khorasan group (IS-Ok) has planted bombs and carried out a number of suicide assaults over the previous 12 months.

But the militants have targeted on simpler targets – primarily mosques and Sikh temples – somewhat than dealing instantly with the Taliban.

After the chaotic exit of US-led troops on August 31 final yr, Western threats to the Taliban regime have additionally been crushed.

Still, the current killing of al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri by a US drone strike on his base in Kabul exhibits how susceptible Taliban leaders may be to a high-tech foe.

While the Panjshir Valley worries the Taliban most, Michael Kugelman, an analyst on the Washington-based Wilson Center think-tank, believes critical resistance is a great distance off.

“If we start seeing IS-K picking up its attacks and launching more attacks… I think the NRF could really benefit from that,” he instructed AFP.

“If Afghans are seeing their households being blown up by IS-Ok… then I feel that might do an enormous harm to the legitimacy of the Taliban and it may benefit the NRF, and provides them a window. “

‘Fear in our hearts’

Panjshir was the final province to fall for the Taliban of their energy takeover of the nation final yr – till September 6, three weeks after the seize of Kabul.

An uneasy calm then surrounded the valley – about 80 kilometers (50 mi) north of Kabul – till May, when the NRF emerged from the mountains to assault once more.

In response, the Taliban despatched greater than 6,000 fighters in tall columns of armored autos, sending worry into the hearts of residents.

“Since the Taliban came into the valley, people are in panic, they can’t talk freely,” Amir mentioned, chatting with AFP in a relaxed voice as a patrol patrolled the provincial capital.

“The Taliban think that if the youth are sitting together, they must be planning something against them,” he mentioned, asking to not be recognized by his actual title.

In the Nineteen Eighties, fighters led by Ahmad Shah Masood – nicknamed the Lion of Panjshir – fought Soviet forces from the rugged peaks of Panjshir.

When the Red Army withdrew, Afghanistan descended into civil conflict and the Taliban took over the nation.

Panjshir was excluded, though Masood was assassinated on September 11, 2001, two days earlier than the assaults on the United States.

The NRF is led by his son Ahmed Masood, who like many NRF leaders is now in unknown exile.

Taliban forces are actually firmly in charge of the principle street passing by the valley, with checkpoints in every single place.

Thousands have fled the valley – as soon as dwelling to some 170,000 – and an environment of worry persists, with residents talking solely when their actual names aren’t revealed.

“Earlier, we loved being here,” mentioned a customer named Nabila, who was within the valley along with her 4 sisters to attend the funeral of her mom.

“Now we have fear in our hearts. We fear that if our husbands come, they will be dragged by the car,” she mentioned, withholding her full title for worry of retaliation.

Will vs Capacity

Rights teams have accused the Taliban of inflicting widespread mistreatment in Panjshir – the allegations denies – together with extrajudicial execution.

Amnesty International mentioned in June, “Those arrested arbitrarily are also facing physical torture and beatings, in some cases, even death.”

“The Taliban arrested the relatives of the protesting fighters and threatened to kill them,” mentioned Jamshed, a resident of Panjshir metropolis.

“These threats forced many fighters to come down from the mountains and surrender.”

Still, Taliban officers ship combined messages about the specter of the NRF – denying their existence on the one hand, nonetheless sending troops to battle them.

“We haven’t seen a front, a front doesn’t exist,” Abdul Hameed Khurasani, the pinnacle of the Taliban particular forces unit stationed within the valley, instructed AFP.

“There are (only) a few people in the mountains. We’re chasing them.”

Ali Nazari, the pinnacle of the NRF’s international relations division, questions the Taliban’s claims.

“If we were a few fighters, and if we have been pushed to the mountains, why are they sending thousands of their fighters?” He requested.

Nazari mentioned the NRF now has a fight drive of three,000, and bases all through the province – a declare that’s not possible to independently confirm.

Kugelman believes that the NRF has the need to battle, however not the flexibility.

“For the NRF to be a truly effective group, it will need more external support, military and financial,” he mentioned.


Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *