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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/27/21

Biden meets Afghan leaders amid escalating Taliban operations

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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US President Joe Biden on Friday promised Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chair of the High Council for National Reconciliation a "sustained" partnership even as he moves to accelerate winding down the United States' longest war amid escalating Taliban operations.

"Afghans are going to have to decide their future," Biden said in brief remarks at the start of his meeting with the Afghan leaders. Biden did not elaborate on what a ''sustained" partnership might entail, the Associated Press said.

The leaders' visit to Washington comes as the Biden administration has stepped up plans for withdrawal ahead of the president's Sept. 11 deadline to end a nearly 20-year-old war that has come with a breathtaking human cost.

Roughly 650 U.S. troops are expected to remain in Afghanistan to provide security for diplomats after the main American military force completes its withdrawal, which is set to be largely done in the next two weeks, U.S. officials told The Associated Press.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's visit to Washington came amid reports of successful Taliban operations as US and NATO troops pullout from Afghanistan after 20 years war.

The Taliban's offensive is prompting Afghans to join the fight

The Afghan government forces have been unable to stem the offensive, and Afghan officials are concerned that the planned pullout of U.S. troops by September could leave the country dangerously vulnerable to a Taliban takeover, the Washington Post said adding:

"At the same time, the Kabul government's call for able-bodied Afghans to join in the fight an extraordinary appeal to former armed rivals and local renegades that has so far met with surprising success seems partly aimed at convincing American officials that despite its failures on the battlefield, Ghani's government and its anti-Taliban cause enjoy strong public support and deserve more help.

"Some critics have warned that relying on former ethnic militia leaders and informal local fighting groups could weaken government control of the military effort and risk a revival of abusive and predatory behavior that marred past anti-Taliban campaigns, such as the suffocation of hundreds of Taliban prisoners inside shipping containers by an ethnic Uzbek warlord whose forces have now been invited to join the national campaign."

"Ghani came to power with an anti-warlord narrative and plan for disarming the people. Now his government is arming people," said Hafiz Mansour, a legislator from the opposition Jamiat-i-Islami party that once led the anti-Taliban fight. "The government should show leadership and manage guns in a useful way. These forces should not become lawbreakers."

Despite the enthusiastic response to the government's call to arms, however, the Taliban is still gaining ground. In the past week, fighters have reportedly seized more than 20 districts and attacked more than 80, according to Washington Post. In Kunduz province, a critical gateway to the northern border, militia fighters have swarmed the capital city to help besieged government troops, but the fighting has continued unabated and the surrounding districts are in Taliban hands.

Taliban officials, who signed a peace deal with U.S. negotiators last year, have dropped out of follow-up talks with Afghan leaders and now boast that they have triumphed on the battlefield. In a long online statement this week, a Taliban spokesman said the group has cleared "large regions" of the country with local cooperation, and that it hopes that "recent developments" will restore peace and security to the country.

The Taliban statement also fiercely criticized the local fighters that have been newly encouraged by the government, referring to them as "arbakis," or former local militias who were notoriously abusive, and accusing them of "fanning the flames of war" to maintain a grip on power. It said such groups will receive "stern" treatment from their Islamic authorities.

In the past week, the pattern of insurgent attacks has both widened and intensified, with frequent reports that they now involve military vehicles and weaponry that were once in the hands of U.S. or Afghan forces.

Taliban take key Afghan district, adding to string of gains

Taliban fighters took control of a key district in Afghanistan's northern Kunduz province on June 21 and encircled the provincial capital, police said, as the insurgent group added to its recent battlefield victories while peace talks have stalemated, the Associated Press reported

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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