KABUL: When Taliban fighters entered the depths of Afghanistan’s last province, Panjshir, the top US general warned of a civil war in the country.
US General Mark Millie believed that the war for Panjshir would lead to a wider civil war that would provide fertile ground for the revival of terrorism in the country.
The Taliban are trying to crush resistance forces defending the mountainous Panjshir Valley, following last month’s rapid Afghan military route – and celebrations when the last US troops left on Monday after a 20-year war. ۔
The Taliban, who infiltrated Kabul three weeks ago at a pace that analysts say may have surprised them, has not yet finalized its new government.
But US General Mark Millie questioned whether he could consolidate power as he sought to move from guerrilla force to government.
“I think there is at least a very good chance of a wider civil war,” Milli, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a blurred assessment.
He told Fox News on Saturday that “this will create conditions that could in fact lead to the reorganization of al-Qaeda or the growth of ISIS.”
Afghanistan’s new rulers have vowed to be more sociable than in their first term, which came after years of conflict – first the Soviet invasion in 1979, and then a bloody civil war.
She has promised a more “comprehensive” government that represents Afghanistan’s complex ethnic make-up – although women are unlikely to be included at the top.
But in Panjshir, a rugged valley north of Kabul that lasted almost a decade against the Soviet occupation and the first Taliban government during 1996-2001, they seem to be trusting their promises.
Humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan
Taliban official Bilal Karimi reported heavy clashes in Panjshir on Sunday, and while resistance fighters insist they have a group, analysts warned they were struggling.
The Italian aid agency Emergency said Taliban forces had reached the village of Panjshir in Anbah, where they run a surgical center.
“Many people have fled local villages in recent days,” Emergency said in a statement on Saturday, adding that it was continuing to provide medical services and treat “a small number of injured”. ۔
Anaba is about 25km (15 miles) north of the 115km-long valley, but unconfirmed reports indicate the Taliban have seized other areas as well.
Bill Rojio, managing editor of the US-based Long War Journal, said Sunday that while the “fog of war” remains – the Taliban have seized several districts with unconfirmed reports – “it looks bad.”
Both sides have claimed heavy damage to each other.
“The Taliban army has been hardened in the 20-year war, and make no mistake, the Taliban trained an army,” Rojio tweeted on Sunday.
“After the withdrawal of US troops and the elimination of the ANA, the Taliban were given large quantities of arms and ammunition,” he added.
Former Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who lives in Panjshir with Ahmed Masood – the son of anti-Taliban commander Ahmed Shah Masood – warned of a dire situation.
Saleh spoke of a “massive humanitarian crisis” in a statement, in which thousands were “displaced by Taliban attacks”.
The Panjshir Valley, which is surrounded by snow-capped peaks, offers a natural defensive advantage.
Western nations fear that Afghanistan could once again become a haven for extremists.
The United States invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the first Taliban government since al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks in 2001, which had taken refuge in the country.
Western governments now fear that Afghanistan could once again become a haven for extremists who are bent on attacking them.
Washington has said it will maintain an “excessive” capability to deal with any threat to its security in Afghanistan.
The international community is ready to deal diplomatically with the new Taliban government.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blankenship is in Qatar on Monday, a key player in the Afghan story and the Taliban’s political office, although he is not expected to meet with the militants.
He will then travel to Germany with German Foreign Minister Heiko Moss to chair a 20-nation ministerial meeting on Afghanistan.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is also set to convene a high-level meeting on Afghanistan in Geneva on September 13 to focus on humanitarian aid for the country.