Taliban launch major offensive to capture key cities in Afghanistan – 08/01/2021 – world

The Taliban launched a major offensive across Afghanistan on Sunday, raising fears that the Islamic fundamentalist group might regain power by force following the withdrawal of US and Western forces from the country.

The attacks were concentrated in three cities: Herat, the main urban center in western Afghanistan, and Kandahar and Lashkar Gah, to the south.

In Herat, where a United Nations base was apparently attacked by the Taliban on Friday, the government sent hundreds of special forces to try to prevent the city from falling.

Civilians have not left their homes and reports, somewhat mixed, speak of an imminent invasion.

In Kandahar, a city known as the “capital of the Taliban” for being the center of the Pashtun ethnic group, to which the group belongs, the airport was attacked with two rockets, damaging the airstrip and forcing the suspension of flights .

“The airport was targeted because it was used as a base for carrying out airstrikes against us,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told news agencies.

The United States, despite being out of the country with troops, continues to carry out bombings to support the government in Kabul and help operate the Brazilian Super Tucano planes used by the air force. Afghan against the insurgents.

The pattern of the attack suggests an attempt to take control of major cities to the south and west, aimed at closing off the surrounding Kabul and the corridor connecting the capital to the tribal areas of Pakistan. The north of the country is almost entirely in the hands of the Taliban.

The international community seems resigned to what will be the return of one of the most atrocious regimes seen in recent decades, marked by a medieval vision of the Islamic religion and extreme brutality against minorities and, above all, women.

China, the region’s largest economic power, hosted a delegation of senior Taliban officials last week and, for all intents and purposes, gave the group its blessing for action.

He did so in the presumed hope of avoiding the encouragement of regional terrorism, especially in his Muslim area of ​​Xinjiang, and perhaps some compromise with Kabul. In addition, it seeks to integrate Afghanistan into its fleet of economic satellites.

Russia, in turn, has strengthened its position as an ally of Tajikistan, on the border with Afghanistan and fears the conflict will spill over into its territory, as has already happened in recent weeks. Monday (2), the two countries and Uzbekistan begin a major military exercise at the border.

The Afghan government, headed by President Ashraf Ghani, is in an increasingly complicated situation. He is considered a Western puppet by the Taliban, and despite a large and relatively well-equipped US military, loyalty in the country respects ethnic and tribal lines.

Turkey, which remained in Kabul as guarantor of the local airport, and Iran, influential in the Afghan community in the northwest, are following the movements closely, trying to maintain channels of communication with the Taliban.

Fundamentalists first appeared in Afghan politics in the early 1990s, during the civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal after ten years of occupation in 1989. Favored by Pakistan, a neighbor who sought an ally in the country. is to strengthen itself against rival India, the group came to power in 1996, dominating 90% of the country.

Over the next five years, he sought to create a modern version of the medieval caliphate, with a strict and deviant interpretation of Islam as the political guide. The group became the protector of the al-Qaeda terrorist network of Osama bin Laden, a Saudi who had made a name for himself in the country as an insurgent against the Soviets.

From Afghan territory, Bin Laden planned attacks on American targets in Africa and the Middle East, until he hit his biggest blow, the September 11, 2001, air strikes in the United States. This sealed the fate of the Taliban, as the country was host to Al Qaeda, it was chosen to be punished in retaliation.

Bin Laden fled until he was killed in 2011, and the Taliban were driven out of government by bombs and a 20-year quagmire invasion of the United States and its Western allies, costing an estimated 160,000 lives. , the overwhelming majority of Afghans, and $ 2.6 trillion. to the US taxpayer.

With the arrival of Joe Biden to power, the Democrat imposed the agreements of his predecessor, Donald Trump. She ruled in April that the war was no longer meaningful and would let the Afghans decide their fate. So far, everything indicates that the task will fall to the Taliban.

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