July 25, 2021

In Afghanistan, the Taliban take the largest border crossing with Iran

The insurgent offensive continues to advance across the country. The Taliban said Friday, July 9 to have invested Islam Qala, the most important border post with Iran in Afghanistan, located in the province of Herat, in the west of the country. The announcement comes hours after a speech by President Joe Biden defending the withdrawal of his troops from the country.

According to Moscow, which called on the warring parties to ” detention “, insurgents also control most of the Afghan border with Tajikistan. Since the acceleration of the withdrawal of foreign forces in early May, the Taliban have taken control of more than a third of Afghanistan’s nearly 400 districts. In particular, they captured an arc of territories stretching from the Iranian border in the west to that with China in the northeast.

According to a government official, Afghan forces are now trying to retake the Islam Qala border post in Herat province. “All Afghan security forces, including border guards, are present in the area, and are now trying to retake the site”Interior Ministry spokesman Tareq Arian said. Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, said the Islam Qala border post was “Completely” under the control of the insurgents, who “Will reactivate today”.

It is one of the most important border crossings in Afghanistan, through which the majority of legal trade with Iran passes. Islam Qala is the second major border crossing taken by the Taliban since the start of their lightning offensive in early May, as the Americans launched the last phase of their withdrawal. The Taliban have claimed that they control 85% of the territory of Afghanistan, without this claim being able to be confirmed from an independent source.

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Two-thirds of the border in Taliban hands

Last month, insurgents took over Shir Khan Bandar, the main border post between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The Taliban “Currently control about two thirds of the border with Tajikistan”Russian diplomacy spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a press conference on Friday.

Earlier this week, a thousand Afghan soldiers took shelter in Tajikistan, after fighting in northeastern Afghanistan with the Taliban. “We call on the opposing parties in the inter-Afghan conflict to exercise restraint and prevent tensions from spreading beyond the country’s borders”, added Maria Zakharova, while a Taliban delegation is in Moscow.

Linked to Tajikistan as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Russia has assured that it will protect its ally. Faced with the threat, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon ordered the mobilization of 20,000 reservists to strengthen the border. Tajikistan, the poorest country in the former USSR, has 1,340 kilometers of border with Afghanistan.

Without American support, Afghan forces retreat

Hours before the announcement of the capture of Islam Qala, US President Joe Biden said in a speech that Washington’s military mission in Afghanistan would be “Completed on August 31”, almost twenty years after its inception. “We are ending America’s longest war” triggered after the attacks of September 11, 2001, he stressed. Mr. Biden hammered that he would not send ” not another generation of Americans fight in Afghanistan ”.

The US president also claimed that he was not “Inevitable” to see the country fall into the hands of the Taliban. Afghan authorities have ” the capacity “ to ensure the continuity of government, he said. But now deprived of crucial US air support, Afghan forces have lost a lot of ground, especially in rural areas, as the Taliban surround major cities like Herat.

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Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban, however, said the insurgents wanted “A negotiated agreement” and “Did not believe in a monopoly on power”. The Taliban also welcomed Mr. Biden’s announcement. “The sooner the better for the departure of American and foreign troops”, replied Mr. Shaheen.

The Taliban had also launched an offensive targeting for the first time on a provincial capital, Qala-e Naw, in the northwest of the country. Fighting has opposed them since Wednesday to government forces. Afghanistan crosses “One of the most complicated stages of the transition”Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Thursday, July 8. “The country can be controlled”, he had however assured, confident in the capacity of his government to manage the crisis.

While Taliban spokesman Suhail Saheen said he believed in “A pacifist solution”, the insurgents seem to have little interest in discussing with the government, and the official Doha negotiations have stalled. The Taliban have never been so powerful since being overthrown by the US-led international coalition in late 2001.

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The World with AFP