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Afghanistan war map blurring Taliban interests

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (UAE) – Attempts to map out the long-running war in Afghanistan have become more and more difficult before the planned withdrawal of all US forces.

Since the US-led invasion in 2001, and since the overthrow of the Afghan Taliban government, insurgent activity has shrunk and then resumed as the conflict continued for two decades. Now that the summer recall is approaching, even US officials are acknowledging that they are in the dark about the Taliban.

“By and large, the Taliban are now in a stronger military position than at any time since 2001, although former public standards for waging war have been classified or no longer produced,” the March report said. The Congressional Research Service warned.

This included data on about 400 local districts in 34 provinces of Afghanistan. The control of these regions was a criterion for judging the overall control of the country.

The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in a recent report detailing that the Afghan government controls only 54% of those districts as of October 2018, which is the same as in 2015. Is the lowest number ever recorded since November. In other districts, the US government describes 34% being disputed and 12% being controlled by rebels.

In April 2019, the Inspector General said that the US-led NATO Resolute Support Mission no longer assessed regional level oversight as “limited value to the commander in decision-making”. But the decision came as the Trump administration sought to negotiate with the Taliban in Qatar, urging military officials to halt efforts to avoid showing how bad things had become, said Bill Roggio, who has been behind the war for years.

Roggio, whose Long War Journal now works at a Washington-based base research firm called the OC Democracy Foundation, has been following the conflict for years, based on press releases he has collected. He believes that half of the country’s regions are now disputed by the government “Taliban”, more than 120 governments are controlled, and more than 70 are completely in the hands of the Taliban.

But even he admits that these numbers represent his best prediction. Some areas held by the government are moving back and forth depending on Taliban attacks. Others see the government digging holes in headquarters or barracks, and then “the police commander is killed by an explosive device as he leaves the base,” Rojo said, using the acronym for homemade bomb.

“Many of the cases I have challenged in these areas, the government really only controls the regional centers,” Rogio said. “I think that map should actually look worse than it really is.”

Afghan Deputy Defense Minister Fawad Aman disputes Rojo’s figures as “incorrect, far from the truth.” However, he did not provide any evidence that the Taliban controlled “more than 10 districts” in Afghanistan “in very remote parts of the country”.

Aman’s claim is about half that of the Taliban, which once publicly offered control of the Taliban region in January 2016.

A recent report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) states that fighting is taking place across the country, with around 90,000 people internally displaced since the beginning of this year alone. Some 4.8 million people have been displaced since 2012 and have not returned to a country of 38 million.

Even Kabul, the country’s heavily guarded capital, is not safe. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has shown that the highest civilian casualties in any of Kabul’s provinces were in 2020, with 255 people killed and 562 injured.

The worst violence came as a result of targeted killings of activists, journalists, judges and lawyers since the day Washington broke off its deal with the Taliban. Although the Islamic State militant group in Afghanistan claims some of the killings, most of them are not accepted by the group, adding to the growing anxiety.

Aman also disputes that Kabul is insecure, citing what he sees as regular security patrols, checkpoints and raids.

“The Taliban presence around the capital Kabul is less than before,” he said. “There is no concern for the people of Kabul.”

Withdrawal from the United States in May is expected to result in the withdrawal of all combat troops from the country after America’s longest war. This will most likely involve personnel responsible for conducting and managing air strikes. Without strikes, Rogjo said the Afghan armed forces were likely to come under heavy attack, which is now too long to defend across the country.

And the map will change again.

“They will have to unite their lines. “They will have to give up the south,” said Rogio. “I just do not see how they can survive.” They will just be torn to pieces. ”

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Associated Press writer Rahim Fayez shared the report in Kabul, Afghanistan.

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Follow Jon on Gambrelli on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

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