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The Taliban Shut In on Afghan Cities, Pushing the Nation to the Brink

Although Taliban ways fluctuate from area to area, the outcomes are normally the identical: elevated taxation on highways, plummeting morale among the many Afghan safety forces with dwindling U.S. assist and rising worry amongst these dwelling in once-secure areas.

The Taliban’s goal is to power the Afghan authorities into complying with their phrases of peace. In Qatar, Taliban leaders have demanded the discharge of round 7,000 extra prisoners and the institution of an interim authorities, two requests that Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan’s president, has to date refused.

“The Taliban appear to consider that making use of this stress, staging their fighters to probably strike Kandahar and different city facilities, will stress the U.S. to withdraw, or else,” Mr. Watkins mentioned. “The strategic logic may need the other impact.”

To organize for a attainable multipronged assault ought to the US keep past the Might 1 deadline, the Pentagon has requested further navy choices — together with a rise of U.S. troops or a dedication of extra air assist from U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations within the Center East and Afghanistan, in response to two U.S. officers. Whether or not these requests can be granted relies on the Biden administration’s subsequent transfer, which is anticipated to be introduced in coming weeks upon finishing a evaluation of the present settlement in place with the Taliban.

The unrest has already delayed the handover of Kandahar Airfield, a sprawling American base east of the capital, to Afghan forces in latest months. For now, a small detachment of U.S. and NATO troops stay to assist the struggling Afghan forces, in response to a U.S. navy official.

With the police power principally in damage, the Afghan military and commandos have moved into Kandahar, starting operations in November to retake territory that was then retaken by the Taliban. Commando officers mentioned their forces had been exhausted by frequent orders to fill in for his or her police counterparts.

In close by Arghandab District, the location of the Taliban’s northern offensive on Kandahar metropolis, military leaders and law enforcement officials say they’re severely understaffed and their pleas for assist have gone unheeded by officers in Kabul.

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