Afghanistan, government announces curfew and the Taliban advance
The Taliban offensive is putting Kabul in serious trouble. Ashraf Ghani’s government tries to respond, but the advance of the fundamentalists continues. The internationally recognized executive seems unable to react adequately: yesterday, it ordered a night curfew across the nation, from 10 pm to 4 am.
Only the capital area, Panshir and Nangarhar province, are excluded. It is not clear how can apply this decision, given that by now, the “Koranic students” control more than half of the Afghan territory, leaving only the big cities to the government forces. And even this balance could be upset soon, with the Taliban forces pressing on Kandahar, and the fighting has already arrived not far from the city, causing at least 150,000 people to flee.
According to Antonio Giustozzi, an analyst at the London School of Economics and an expert on Afghanistan, the fundamentalists’ strategy envisages the conquest of a large city, preferably Kandahar, for its great symbolic value. In the past, here Mullah Omar had assumed the position of Emir of the believers. And from here, the conquest of the whole country had started.
The plan would be to create some interim parallel government, which several mujahideen leaders could recognize. Ashraf Ghani’s government is increasingly isolated. The same offensive by the US Air Force on the militiamen attacking Kandahar shows that the US fears a strong shock wave. In other words, the fall of Kandahar would be a tipping point for the Kabul government.
Several tribal leaders are distancing themselves from Ashraf Ghani, who, according to analysts, has imposed his delegation in Doha just as the other mujahideen leaders were looking for an agreement that excluded him. Indiscretions from Qatar underline that Prime Minister Abdullah Abdullah was ready to sign and other leaders to support him but skipped the plan.
Even the cities controlled by the Kabul forces are in serious difficulty on the ground due to troop supply problems: the government is using civilian airplanes to carry ammunition, but the situation is at the limit. And in the country, the time has come for a reckoning: there are already videos of summary executions by the Taliban, some are blatantly fake videos or vintage footage, used by the security services to discredit fundamentalists, others are probably real, and they suggest a far from the promising prospect for Afghanistan.