October 23, 2015 | Quote
An Emboldened Taliban Is Capturing A Shocking Chunk Of Afghanistan
The Taliban stunned many in the international community last month when it stormed the city of Kunduz, seizing the strategic stronghold from Afghan forces and freeing 500 militants from a local jail. But it was just the latest in a string of victories for the militant group, whose fighters have launched offensives throughout the country.
Emboldened and on the attack, the group that American-led forces ousted from power in 2001 is waging a spectacular comeback in Afghanistan, one that’s embarrassed the U.S. as it seeks to quietly exit the country. And rather than provide a glimmer of opportunity for the future, the turn of events is giving its war-weary people a new reason to flee. The Taliban now controls nearly a tenth of Afghanistan’s 398 regional districts, according to an analysis by the Long War Journal, a website run by national security experts which has tracked the group’s resurgence in recent months.
“It is certainly on the offensive and certainly has momentum right now,” said Bill Roggio, who edits the Long War Journal and is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “They’ve capitalized on a weak government and a weak military, one that has the same problems that aided the Taliban’s rise to power in the past.”
Since reportedly torching government offices and looting the Central Bank in Kunduz before withdrawing from the city, the Taliban has continued to upend regions across Afghanistan. Its fighters overran Ghormach along the Turkmenistan border on Sunday. Two days later, they seized Ghoryan in the western province of Farah. Roggio told Vocativ the Taliban has captured at least 13 territories in recent weeks. It has its sights set on another 35 contested districts.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if another five fell in the next week,” said Roggio. “Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they captured an entire province.”
“Those who can get out will continue to get out,” said Roggio. “Those who are out will stay out. I think the refugee numbers tell you how bad things really are.”