At a time when the United States and coalition forces are wrapping up their thirteen-year military campaign in Afghanistan, Taliban fighters are seizing the opportunity to expand their influence and grab territory comparable to levels unseen since before 9/11, when the jihadi group ruled over the once-recognized Islamic State of Afghanistan.
The New York Times writes:
Taliban fighters are scoring early gains in several strategic areas near the capital this summer, inflicting heavy casualties and casting new doubt on the ability of Afghan forces to contain the insurgency as the United States moves to complete its withdrawal of combat troops, according to Afghan officials and local elders.
Their advance has gone unreported because most American forces have left the field and officials in Kabul have largely refused to talk about it. The Afghan ministries have not released casualty statistics since an alarming rise in army and police deaths last year.
The Times reported that Taliban fighters have made various strategic territorial gains and have been closing in on Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city.
The growing momentum in favor of the Taliban is raising doubts throughout the international community about the Afghan military’s capability to combat the radical Islamist group. The Afghan army has largely been unsuccessful in stopping the advances of the Taliban during “fighting season,” the spring and summer months when insurgents go on their bloody offensive.
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, recognizing the grave threat to his nation, called upon the Taliban to stop allowing for the inflow of foreign Islamist militants who are helping to bring the radical jihadi group back to power. “I want the Taliban to join the peace process and live with honor with their brothers and sisters,” said Karzai after Eid prayers in Kabul. The outgoing President continued, “The attacks on Afghanistan were very severe [during election season]. We have not seen such deadly attacks over the past fourteen years as we have observed in two months. Our security organs routinely submit reports that a large number of foreign terrorists have sneaked into Afghanistan and carry out attacks on Afghans.”
Afghanistan is currently dealing with domestic political turmoil after an election controversy over allegations of massive voter fraud in the most recent Presidential elections.