Despite the fact that Taliban forces recently withdrew from the city of Kunduz, which they had occupied for roughly two weeks, there is no question that overall they are getting stronger in Afghanistan. Why is this the case?
After fall of the Taliban in 2001, they collapsed. Only some scattered groups of rebels existed in the remote areas of Southern and Eastern Afghanistan. They had been defeated by the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) which could draw on the support of Coalition Forces, led by the United States of America.
A decade later, the Taliban returned, recruiting fighters mostly from the suburbs of the country’s large cities and even from within the safest provinces in Northern Afghanistan.
Kunduz is one of the largest cities situated in the Northeastern Afghanistan. Strategically it is important as a transport hub for the entire North. When the Taliban overran the city which holds a population of 300,000, on Monday 28th September, this represented the biggest win for the Taliban since their fall from power in 2001.
The city was recaptured by the ANSF after a fierce battle that lasted three days. Officials in the Afghanistan’s Ministry of Health stated that more than 40 people had been killed and nearly 400 injured in the fighting, Most of them are said to be civilians.
Hundreds of families have fled their homes while thousands are stuck, afraid to leave their homes, with food and supplies running low.
Why could this happen?
Ahmad Zia Ferozpur, an Afghan Lecturer expressing concern over the rise of Taliban in Afghanistan says that the main reason for the Taliban’s resurgence lies with increasing support they are getting from the civilian population. Mr. Ferozpur notes that economic issues drive Afghans to cooperate; poverty in a huge issue, and for many tha Taliban are the only ones they can turn to.
But Shafiqullah Shafiq, another lecturer in Afghanistan’s Balkh University sees matter differently. He believes that most people, who lately joined Taliban, are fighting based on religious ideology. These fighters believe that the current government is illegitimate and cannot properly practice Sharia law.
Over the past decade, faith in the Afghan government has rapidly diminished, the security forces who are installed by foreign countries are acting irresponsible. In some areas across Afghanistan, they force taxes on ordinary and there are reports of rape, robberies and other crimes committed by soldiers. Usually the Afghan government ignores such complains being put forth by the people.
There are ten reasons why Taliban are getting stronger, especially in the North of Afghanistan:
- Interfering of external powers, particularly neighbors, into internal affairs of the country.
- Illiteracy and lack of knowledge among extremists.
- Withdrawal of ISAF forces from Afghanistan.
- Weak economic governace.
- Lack of comprehensive strategy by the Afghan Government to fight terrorism.
- The rise of ISIS and increased extremism in the region.
- Increased income of insurgency through poppy production and smuggling.
- Reluctance of the Security Forces of Afghanistan to fight for the central administration
- Disunity within the Government Administration of Afghanistan.
- Lack of trust to the government by the people.
Some are now worried about a Taliban, and even ISIS’s, infiltration o Afghanistan. The country’s history shows, however, that Afghans are not that easily to defeat, and nearly impossible to conquer.
Still, the window of opportunity remains open for Afghanistan.
The International Community is still engaged in the country and given current events there is renewed commitment to the promises that were given to the Afghan people. Some of these promises have already been realized. The number of the intellectual and bright minded people seeking to participate in the Afghan society has increased dramatically. The young generation has gained access to social media; women are enjoying their civil rights. The chances that come with this small scale transformation have the potential to dramatically change the course of the country, to develop economically, and eliminate war and insurgencies.
As long as the Afghan Government together with its international allies does not conduct a serious anti-rebel scheme, extremism will go further and will capture city after city. Absent major international involvement it could then become impossible to win the country back.