“Great Fall”.. Is Turkey Drowning into “Afghan Swamp”?

Afghan cities have been constantly falling in Taliban movement hands as a result of the continuous battles for weeks, amid the inability of the authorities in Kabul, the capital, to control the situation, with fears of Taliban returning to rule after the withdrawal of the US forces. The US military intervention in the Middle East had no clear goals in the past twenty years. Turkey, on the other hand, seeks to maintain its forces in Afghanistan by signing bilateral agreements taking advantage of the withdrawal of international forces.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish President, confirmed yesterday evening, Wednesday, that he might receive the leader of Taliban movement in the coming period. The president said that he had held talks with the Qatari side on stopping the Taliban’s steps and discussed ways to achieve reconciliation within the framework of efforts to end the fighting in Afghanistan. “Turkish institutions are taking the necessary measures regarding developments in Afghanistan, including talks with the Taliba, and even me can receive its leader in the coming period,” Erdogan says.

Erdogan had announced earlier that his country would secure the international airport in Kabul, the Afghan capital, after the US withdrawal. He said at the time that Ankara and Washington had agreed on “arrangements” for Turkish forces to secure Kabul Airport to fill the gap resulted from US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Media outlets quoted Turkish officials as saying that their country is still determined at the mean time to manage and protect Kabul Airport after the withdrawal of other foreign forces from Afghanistan, but it is monitoring the situation as Taliban have been achieving rapid gains on the ground.

Taliban movement has warned Turkey against keeping troops in Afghanistan to protect the airport and considered the decision of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to keep its forces in order to secure Kabul International Airport as a continuation of occupation Afghanistan.

On the other hand, observers believe that the United States has sought to support the Turkish presence in Afghanistan, under the pretext of filling the American gap.  According to these observers, “Erdogan is trying to fish in the turbid waters of Afghanistan, and the Afghan swamp is deeper than Turkey’s protection of the airport,” they say.

“The United States will move on to rearrange its strategies to confront Russia, China and Iran” observers add.

However, Imran Khan, Pakistani Prime Minister, indicated yesterday, Wednesday, in statements to foreign media after talks with Hulusi Akar, Turkish Defense Minister, that his country is making efforts to facilitate talks between Taliban and Ankara, and that the best thing Turkey and Taliban can do is to hold a direct dialogue so that the two sides would be able to discuss the reasons why it is necessary to secure Kabul Airport.

The Great Fall..

On Thursday, Taliban announced their control of the headquarters of Ghazni province, located just 150 km from Kabul, to become the tenth capital of an Afghan province they took control of, after they previously took control of the city of Fayzabad, the center of Badakhshan province – northern Afghanistan.

“A number of Afghan forces joined the movement, and the Taliban seized a helicopter and other weapons at the airport in Kunduz province, as well as the movement’s fighters took control of the provinces of Baghlan and Badakhshan in the north-east of the country, in addition, they targeted Bagram military base, north of Kabul, with missiles,” Zabiullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesman, said on Twitter.

Mujahid confirmed that the movement had controlled the states of Nimroz, Jawzjan, Sar-e Pol, Kunduz, Takhar, Samangan, Farah, Baghlan and Badakhshan.

It appears that the movement is not thinking of slowing down the frantic pace of its progress in the north, rather it continues the pressure.  6 of the capitals of the ten states controlled by the Taliban (out of the 34 capitals of Afghan provinces) are located in the north. Taliban also controls large parts of other states but not their capitals.

Taking control over Kunduz, the strategic crossroads in northern Afghanistan between Kabul and Tajikistan, has been Taliban’s biggest military success since they started their attack in May. That was after the international forces had started to withdraw, which are expected to be completely out by August 31.

“The Taliban movement might isolate Kabul, the Afghan capital, from the rest of the country within 30 days, and probably controls it within 90 days,” a US official says anticipating after the movement’s control of several city capitals in only one week.

“The new assessment of Kabul’s resilience is based on the rapid gains that the Taliban are making across the country with the departure of US-led foreign forces, which are scheduled to withdraw their forces completely by the end of this month,” the official confirms to media anonymously.

“This is not an inevitable outcome, and that the Afghan security forces can turn things around by showing more resistance,” he further adds.

American concern and warning..

On the other hand, the US embassy in Kabul warned today, Thursday, of receiving reports that the Taliban executed members of the Afghan forces after their surrender considering that Taliban’s acts are very worrying and may constitute war crimes.

“The speed at which Taliban is taking control over many areas in Afghanistan in the past week has shocked veteran US military and National Security Council officials,” the American Axios website states.

“Joe Biden, President, has admitted reluctantly that the Taliban are launching strikes quickly and in dramatic consistency, and there is no opportunity to change the withdrawal strategy,” Axios tells.

In turn, “The US administration is working to accelerate the procedures for evacuating Afghan collaborators and their families, and the United States will continue to provide logistical support to the Afghan forces,” Jen Psaki, White House spokeswoman, says. She considers that these forces have what enables them to confront the Taliban.

“The withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan will be on schedule regardless of the progress achieved by the Taliban,” Psaki emphasizes.

“What we can speak to is that we’re going to maintain a — a good relationship with Afghan forces going forward, we’re going to continue to help them defend themselves to the best ability we have for the remainder of the drawdown, and I’m not going to speculate about what it’s going to look like beyond that,” John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, says.

 “The actions of Taliban are inconsistent with what they have committed to at the negotiating table, and that the political solution is the only one, but there is an Afghan military strategy that we support as much as possible,” Kirby confirms.

Joe Biden , US President urged Afghan leaders to fight for their homeland, saying on Tuesday he did not regret his decision to withdraw, noting that the United States had spent more than $1 trillion over 20 years and lost thousands of troops.

“The United States was providing significant air support, food, equipment and salaries to Afghan forces,” he says.

It is noteworthy that the United States is completing the withdrawal of its forces this month in exchange for the Taliban’s promises to prevent using Afghanistan in international terrorism. Washington is also considering closing its embassy and evacuating its diplomatic mission in Afghanistan.

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