The US Air Force at-tacked Taliban tro-ops in the Afghan province of Jowzjan, kil-ling more than 200 militants. The largest Ameri-can attack on Islamist positions in recent months was a twist in Washi-ngton’s Afghan strategy, which had previously foc-used on engaging the Tali-ban in the peace process.
Battle to the last Afghan
On Saturday evening, a US B-52 aircraft bombed Taliban positions in the strategically important Afghan city of Sheberghan, located in the northwestern province of Jowzjan. This was announced by the deputy head of the press center of the Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan Favad Aman. As a result of the air strike, more than 200 militants, more than 100 vehicles, as well as a large number of weapons and ammunition belonging to the Taliban movement were eliminated. Earlier, the American media reported: Washin-gton urgently deployed B-52 Stratofortress bombers to Afghanistan, which will be used to fight the Islamists continuing the offensive. How exactly air support for the Afghan security forces will be carried out has been shown by the events in Sheberghan.
The Taliban attack on the city of Sheberghan, the homeland of the former vice president, leader of the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan party, representing the country’s Turkic-speaking population, Abdul-Rashid Dostum, began in June and intensified sharply in the first days of August. Until the end of last week, government forces in Sheberghan under the command of Abdul-Rashid Dostum’s eldest son, Yormuhammad, at the cost of tremendous efforts, repulsed attacks by militants who were suffering heavy losses. However, the Taliban pulled reinforcements from neighboring provinces to the city and by Saturday evening they had already controlled a significant part of the city. According to a number of sources, by the end of the week the city was completely under the control of the Taliban, but the Afghan Defense Ministry insists that government forces still retain control over part of the city.
Himself 67-year-old Abdul-Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek who commanded a division even under the execution of the Taliban President Najibullah, and later was Chief of the General Staff and First Vice President under the incumbent President Ashraf Ghani, described the situation in the country and the strategy of the Taliban as follows:
“The enemy seeks to establish complete control over one of the five provi-nces – Jowzjan, Herat, Hel-mand, Takhar or Kandahar. Security forces and militias are fighting off attacks on these provinces, but the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating. “According to him, he has already held a series of consultations with politicians in Kabul and promised that a counteroffensive would soon begin in the north of the country.
The chairman of one of the most influential parties in Afghanistan, Jamiyati Islami, Salahuddin Rabbani, also announced his intention to join the mobilization of his supporters in the fight against the Taliban. “During our meetings with dear brothers, General Mir Amanullah Guzar and General Janahmad Hakju, members of the party’s governing council, we discussed how to mobilize the forces of the people to help the defense and security structures,” Salahuddin Rabbani said. Until recently, the Jamiyati Islami militants, which at one time were considered the basis of the anti-Taliban coalition in Afghanistan, did not enter into a new serious armed confrontation with the Taliban.
Fifty Shades of Terror
The persistent refusal of the Taliban to stop the offensive, as well as the mobilization of anti-Taliban forces that began in Afghanistan, show that the US administration’s plan to complete the withdrawal of troops and simultaneously launch the political process with the participation of the Islamists and the Afghan authorities did not work. Apparently, the armed confrontation in Afghanistan has gone too far, and the one who will prevail in the new Afghan war will rule in Kabul.
The second factor that does not allow the US administration to pursue the previous line is that, in an effort to overthrow the government of President Ghani as soon as possible, the Taliban are literally ready to go to power over the corpses, and not only security officials and government officials, but also ordinary citizens.
As UN Special Representative Deborah Lyons said, in the last month alone, more than 1,000 civilians have died as a result of Taliban attacks. According to her, hopes for a decrease in the level of violence after the signing of agreements on the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan did not materialize.
“We are seeing a 50% increase in civilian casualties, and it is clear that there will be even more. As the fighting continues, there is complete stagnation at the Doha negotiating table, ”said Deborah Lyons.
One of the most disadvantaged was the southern province of Kandahar, where the Taliban takeover of settlements is accompanied by massacres of persons who may have family or other connections with Afghan security forces or government officials. As former Kandahar police chief Tadin Khan told the British newspaper The Times , the militants are raiding houses in search of unreliable, who are then tortured and killed.
“In Spin Boldak, Kandahar, the Taliban massacred civilians out of revenge. These killings may constitute war crimes that must be investigated, and the perpetrators or Taliban commanders must be held accountable, ”the US Embassy in Kabul said in a statement. Finally, in addition to the Taliban offensive and mass casualties among the civilian population, another reason forcing the US administration to revise its Afghan strategy on the fly is the external factor.
Numerous sources indicate that the confrontation in Afghanistan is no longer a one-on-one battle of two forces. A terrorist international of well-trained and motivated fighters from the Middle East and neighboring Pakistan is fighting on the side of the Taliban. “The Taliban are assisted by foreign fighters belonging to various terrorist organizations, including the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda (banned in the Russian Federation – Kommersant ). Their number reaches 10 thousand people. The scale of the situation can be compared to an invasion, Afghanistan has not faced such a situation over the past 30 years, ”said Ghulam Iskhakzai, Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN.
Meanwhile, the American publication Foreign Policy, in an article entitled “How Pakistan Could Become Biden’s Worst Enemy,” notes that the implementation of the peace plan for Afghanistan proposed by the United States is becoming unrealistic due to the actions of the Pakistani side promoting its alternative scenario. As the newspaper notes, this scenario is to achieve the overthrow of the regime of President Ghani and turn Afghanistan into a Pakistani protectorate, which will automatically increase the geopolitical role and weight of Islamabad and create new opportunities for confrontation with India. “Pakistan supports the Taliban offensive. Without Pakistan’s logistical support, the Taliban would not have been able to launch such a massive offensive across the country,” South Asian security expert Bruce Riedel, who has served as a senior adviser to the administrations of four US presidents, told Foreign Policy.
“Pakistani intelligence has already achieved the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country. The challenge now is to sow panic in the Afghan government and security forces, ”added Bruce Riedel.
However, the Pakistani authorities insist that their influence on the Taliban is not growing stronger as the conflict escalates, but is weakening. Pakistani Prime Minister’s Special Assistant for National Security Moid Yusuf, who visited Washington, said “less and less” when asked if Pakistan has leverage over the Taliban.