The Afghan government has said troops fleeing to neighboring Tajikistan will be sent back to fight. Hamdullah Mahib, the country’s national security adviser, said 2,300 troops had already been sent to different parts of Afghanistan. One-third of Afghanistan is now under Taliban control, and every day they are snatching new districts from government forces.
In Badakhshan, Taliban fighters are advancing on Faizabad, the main town in the area. As a result, troops have been fleeing Tajik-border Afghan bases for the past few weeks. Last Sunday, nearly a thousand Afghan soldiers fled to Tajikistan in the face of a Taliban attack. Hamdullah Mahib told a news conference on Tuesday that the soldiers who had fled to Tajikistan were returning and would once again be engaged in serving the people of Faizabad. However, the official did not confirm the process by which the troops were being withdrawn.
According to a local lawmaker, the Taliban have seized 26 of the 26 districts in Badakhshan province. Three of them got it without any kind of war. A number of Afghan troops have also reportedly taken refuge in neighboring Uzbekistan in the face of Taliban attacks.
Taliban attacks have escalated in Afghanistan since the recent announcement of the withdrawal of Western troops. All US and NATO troops are due to leave the country by next September. The Taliban has warned of dire consequences if all foreign troops do not leave Afghanistan within the stipulated time. But it is feared that if the fighting between government forces and the militant group intensifies, the influx of Afghan refugees could return to neighboring countries.The decision, which Biden is expected to announce Wednesday, will keep thousands of U.S. forces in the country beyond the May 1 exit deadline that the Trump administration negotiated last year with the Taliban, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters Tuesday under rules of anonymity set by the White House.
While the Taliban has promised to renew attacks on U.S. and NATO personnel if foreign troops are not out by the deadline — and said in a statement it would not continue to participate in “any conference” about Afghanistan’s future until all “foreign forces” have departed — it is not clear whether the militants will follow through with the earlier threats given Biden’s plan for a phased withdrawal between now and September. The Taliban has conducted sputtering talks with the Afghan government, begun under the Trump deal, since last fall. It was also invited to
an additional high-level inter-Afghan discussion in Turkey later this month.Biden’s decision comes after an administration review of U.S. options in Afghanistan, where U.S.-midwifed peace talks have failed to advance as hoped and the Taliban remains a potent force despite two decades of effort by the United States to defeat the militants and establish stable, democratic governance. The war has cost trillions of dollars in addition to the lives of more than 2,000 U.S. service members. At least 100,000 Afghan civilians have been injured or killed.
“This is the immediate, practical reality that our policy review discovered,” said one person familiar with the closed-door deliberations who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy planning. “If we break the May 1st deadline negotiated by the previous administration with no clear plan to exit, we will be back at war with the Taliban, and that was not something President Biden believed was in the national interest.
The goal is to move to “zero” troops by September, the senior administration official said. “This is not conditions-based. The president has judged that a conditions-based approach . . . is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever. He has reached the conclusion that the United States will complete its drawdown and will remove its forces from Afghanistan before September 11th.”