With the expansion of Taliban control, Ghani dismisses the army chief and Washington confirms the government’s ability to confront the movement | Afghanistan News

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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani dismissed the army chief from his post, after the Taliban’s control expanded to include 9 states in different regions of the country, while the White House said that government forces have what it takes to confront the Taliban, confirming the withdrawal of US forces within their specified deadlines.

Al-Jazeera correspondent quoted an Afghan government source as saying that the commander of the Afghan army, General Wali Muhammad Ahmadzai, had been dismissed, and General Haibatullah Ali Zai was appointed as the new commander of the army.

Ghani also opened an operations center against Taliban militants in the northern states, and chaired a meeting with officials and tribal leaders.

A source close to General Abdul Rashid Dostum said that Ghani is expected to assign him to oversee operations against Taliban militants.

For his part, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced – via his Twitter account – that a number of Afghan forces have joined the movement.

The spokesman of the movement added that in addition to the soldiers’ surrender, the movement seized a helicopter at the airport in Kunduz province and other weapons, and an Afghan security source said that the movement’s militants controlled the central prison in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.

The Taliban announced its control of the city of Faizabad, the center of Badakhshan province – northern Afghanistan – to be the ninth capital of a state controlled by the movement in less than a week.

Zabihullah Mujahid said that Taliban fighters took control of the provinces of Baghlan and Badakhshan last night in the northeast of the country, and that they targeted Bagram military base north of the capital, Kabul, with missiles.

He added that the movement is now controlling the states of Nimroz, Jawzjan, Sarbel, Kunduz, Takhar, Semangan, Farah, Baghlan and Badakhshan.

And 6 of the capitals of the nine provinces controlled by the Taliban (out of the 34 capitals of Afghan provinces) are located in the north, while they control large parts of other provinces without their capitals.

On Tuesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the Taliban had taken control of the Afghan borders with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Shoigu indicated – in his statements – that the Taliban is advancing in Afghanistan and that the Afghan borders with both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are under the control of the movement, which also took control of Kunduz Province (northern), which is considered a large and very dangerous center.

In a related context, the Afghan Foreign Ministry called on Pakistan to close – what it described – the supply routes to the Taliban and allied terrorists, as it put it. The State Department said that terrorists backed by regional terrorist groups have safe havens in Pakistan from which to attack Afghanistan.

She added that Kabul – for two decades – has demanded Islamabad to take strict steps against terrorist havens within its territory, noting that the Taliban is violating its international obligations by escalating violence, and also by failing to cut ties with regional and international terrorist groups.

American shock

On the other hand, the Axios website – quoting sources familiar with developments in Afghanistan – said that the speed of the Taliban’s control of areas in Afghanistan during the past week shocked veteran US military and National Security Council officials.

It also quoted a senior official in the US administration that President Joe Biden admitted – reluctantly – that the Taliban were launching strikes quickly and in dramatic coordination.

And it quoted a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Ben Cardin, that he discussed with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, last Monday, the situation in Afghanistan and that there is no opportunity to change President Biden’s withdrawal strategy.

For her part, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the US administration is working to speed up procedures for evacuating Afghan collaborators and their families.

Psaki added that the United States will continue to provide logistical support to the Afghan forces, and considers that these forces have what enables them to confront the Taliban, stressing the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan according to the specified deadlines, regardless of the progress achieved by the Taliban.

The White House spokeswoman refused to comment on what was said about the possibility of the capital, Kabul, falling into the hands of the Taliban within 90 days, and said that the assessment of the US administration is that there is no inevitable scenario, as she put it.

While Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said he would not speculate about the security situation in Afghanistan and that their focus was on supporting Afghan forces on the ground and in the air.

Kirby added that the Taliban’s actions are not consistent with what they committed to at the negotiating table, and that the political solution is the only one, stressing that the Taliban continues to make progress, and that there is an Afghan military strategy that we support as much as possible.

international conference

On the political front, meetings between the countries participating in the expanded international conference on Afghanistan are continuing in the Qatari capital, Doha.

It is expected that Russia, the United States of America, China and Pakistan will also meet today to discuss the latest developments in the crisis in Afghanistan.

The Afghan government delegation, headed by the Chairman of the Higher Reconciliation Committee Abdullah Abdullah, concluded on Tuesday its meetings with the delegations of the participating countries, and a delegation from the Taliban movement joined the meeting.

Abdullah said that they handed Qatar the government’s plan to find a way out of the current crisis, noting that the situation in Afghanistan is dangerous and critical and there are potential threats to the country’s future.

Abdullah added that the Taliban did not show seriousness in the peace talks and it is clear that they do not believe in a political solution, accusing the movement of maintaining relations with what he called terrorists, including al-Qaeda, contrary to its commitments.

He affirmed his support for a political solution through negotiation and the appointment of a mediator or mediators to organize the negotiations.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Taliban’s political office, Muhammad Naim, said that the movement is committed to solving problems through dialogue despite the progress it has made on the ground.

In a previous meeting with Al-Jazeera, Naim confirmed that the Taliban did not close the political track and that the presence of its delegation in Doha is evidence of its adherence to negotiations, and the movement’s desire for a political solution to the crisis, indicating that they will not remain silent about any crimes committed.

For its part, the US State Department confirmed that its efforts in Doha aim to pressure the Taliban to reduce violence and engage in urgent peace negotiations, stressing that the only way to stability in Afghanistan is through a political settlement.

The US State Department stated that the delay in the talks on Afghanistan is painful, and that all recent indications indicate that the Taliban is seeking military victory in Afghanistan, stressing that it is neither in the interest of Afghanistan’s neighbors nor the Taliban that the conflict continues.

The French Foreign Ministry also announced that it is closely following the developments in Afghanistan, which it described as worrying. The Foreign Ministry added that Paris is in close contact with its partners on the steps that the European Union and its member states can take.







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