In my recent article I pointed out that the resurgent Taliban now control most of the territory as well as govern the majority of the population of Afghanistan. I also quoted Tamim Asey – former Afghan Deputy Defence Minister – that the key battles would be in the cities of the country and this is proving rather accurate.
Almost as soon as my article went to press it has been reported by the Pakistani daily ‘Dawn’ that the city of Ghazni has now been completely surrounded and the Afghan government’s forces there are all but cut off. Ghazni is important because it is a key strategic point on the road between the two most important cities in Afghanistan: Kabul (the capital) and Kandahar (the former Taliban capital).
Nor is Ghazni alone as Kandahar has been under assault from the West by Taliban forces for four days straight and Afghan government forces – again as I previously noted this is primarily the Afghan special forces/commandos not regular Afghan army troops – are struggling to contain the offensive making it look like Kandahar might fall to the Taliban sooner rather than later.
Taluqan and Badghis – both provincial capitals in the north and south respectively – have come under assault from the Taliban but those assaults were broken using air powerrather than ground troops suggesting that the Afghan government’s resources are insufficient to the military task at hand.
In addition despite a Taliban diplomatic contingent going to Moscow to tell the Russian government they were no threat to them; Russia is clearly suspicious of the Taliban’s motives as well as the possibility of a Taliban-run Afghanistan becoming a source of material and financial support for the Chechen Islamists that Vladimir Putin’s government have been in a brutal war with for more than three decades now.
With the Taliban looking stronger and stronger by the day is it just a matter of time before Afghanistan collapses back into its fundamentally medieval society?
We will see but it does seem distinctly likely.