By Yang Zhongjie
The Afghan situation has seen tremendous changes recently after the US announced its earlier withdrawal of troops from the country. Taliban and the Afghan government are fighting and talking at the same time, and out-of-the-region forces are weighing in at a faster pace, whose sustained and intensified struggles will cast a pall over the future of Afghanistan.
Battles & bargains
After the US announced its earlier withdrawal of troops, the Afghan government and Taliban have engaged both in confrontation and negotiation, plunging the country into constant turmoil.
On the one hand, conflicts remain intense. The Afghan Ministry of Defense released a statement on July 17 saying that the government forces had attacked Taliban troops in the provinces of Nangarhar, Ghazni, Balkh, Samangan and Kabul, killing 284 armed personnel, injuring 205 and dismantling a batch of rough-and-ready explosive devices placed by Taliban.
On the other hand, negotiations are stalled. Foreign media reported that Abdullah, Chairman of the Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), and Baradar, Director of the Taliban Political Office in Doha, held a new round of peace talks in Doha, the capital of Qatar, on behalf of the Afghan government and Taliban, during which they agreed to form a 14-member committee comprising representatives from both sides. Russian media also revealed that the Taliban negotiator said they would announce a three-month ceasefire on the condition that the Afghan government releases 7,000 prisoners and the UN takes Taliban out of its blacklist.
Accelerated joining of various parties
A summary of foreign reports shows that several countries have stepped up their interference in Afghanistan after America’s hurried withdrawal.
The Russian Ministry of National Defense released the news that the country and central Asian countries will hold a series of joint exercises near the Afghan border in the near future. “The Afghan situation is getting out of control with imminent regional threats.Although communication has been formed with Taliban, military organizations including the SCO need to be fully prepared for all threats from this direction,” said a Russian military expert.
According to Turkish media, Turkish President Erdogan said he had reached an agreement with the US that his country would take over and station the Kabul airport in the capital of Afghanistan.The Afghan government supported the plan saying the presence of Turkish troops would help fight back the Taliban. Taliban responded that it would view Turkey as an occupier if it didn’t pull back its troops on schedule. According to some military experts, taking over the Kabul airport would be the first step of Turkey getting involved in the Afghan issue, and it would hold sway over the Afghan situation if it controlled the gateway in and out of the country.
Afghan media also reported that India had brought tens of tons of weapons and ammunition with transport planes to Afghanistan days ago, allegedly in response to the Afghan government’s call to help defeat Taliban. In response, the spokesperson for Taliban,SuhailShaheen said they welcome India to continue its assistance and reconstruction work in Afghanistan after Taliban takes power, but it should not provide any military support for the government forces.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph on July 13, British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said London will work with Taliban if it takes over the Afghan government, saying that the British government would engage with any party that comes in power as long as it observes international rules. He added that Taliban is in urgent need of international recognition and capital for national construction, a goal that’s impossible to achieve if it continues to be designated as a terrorist organization.
In sum, the culprit for the tightening situation and aggravated foreign interference in Afghanistan recently is America’s Afghan policy. After it packs up and leaves the country in ruin, Afghanistan’s security situation will face more uncertainties and the prospects of peace are dimmer.
Political turbulence lingers. Analysts said the Afghan government forces will hardly put up any effective resistance against Taliban’s overwhelming attacks now that they have lost the strong support from American troops, adding fuel to the flame of military and political instability in Afghanistan.
Terrorism may come back. Wall Street Journal commented that America’s irresponsible withdrawal of troops has aggravated the security situation in Afghanistan and may turn the country into a hotbed of terrorism again. The extremist organization Islamic State (IS) may rebuild its foothold here, which will be catastrophic for Afghanistan and its neighbors.
Foreign forces will crowd. American troops pulling back has left a huge “power vacuum” in central Asia, where foreign forces like Russia, Britain and Turkey and close neighbors like India may step up their interference. At the same time, the Biden administration won’t sit idle while watching central Asia falling into the hands of others. It may adopt new and aggressive measures in regions around Afghanistan, and its movements should be closely and consistently watched.