The question on everybody’s mind now is why the Taliban hold on to their hold on Kunduz and several other areas in Afghanistan? One reason is that they know the US and its troops are completely exhausted and cannot fight on any longer. They also know that the politically correct thing to do is to keep the soldiers alive, until they can be withdrawn from the area. What I find even more interesting is the fact that the Taliban is getting much stronger as a result of this weakness.
It appears that the Northern Kunduz Province has fallen to the Taliban and the fighters are now consolidating their gains. This area had been relatively stable before, but now things have completely turned around. The Northern Kunduz Province was controlled by the Northern Alliance prior to the US withdrawal in Afghanistan, but that control was tenuous at best. However, with the US now withdrawing all its forces from that area, the Northern Alliance has turned the tables and the tide is turning against them.
What’s going on? Well, since the Northern Alliance lost Kunduz, they’ve made major gains in the past few days. They’ve taken over an entire city; they’ve taken Kunduz, they’ve taken Helmand, they’ve taken Sarar and Badakhshah, all of these areas are now completely under their control. So, why is the Taliban able to continue to fight so long after everybody else has left? What’s going on?
The answer lies in what the Northern Alliance is not preparing to do. They’ve tried to surround Kunduz and cut off the supply route from the north, to Pakistan. This would cut off the Taliban completely and make it impossible for them to get supplies in. But they’ve also tried to completely encircle the city and cut off all roads leading into it, and this also proves to be fruitless. The fact that the Taliban holds the key to Kunduz proves that they have many resources and hold the key to the future of the Taliban.
Now, the Northern Alliance is making a strategic mistake, as this will make the situation in Kunduz much worse. They’re trying to get military forces back into the area to take back the city, while simultaneously trying to push back the Taliban. If they try to get military forces into the city, the Northern Alliance will be cut off and unable to supply them. If they attempt to push back the Taliban, the Pakistanis will see that the United States is willing to negotiate with the Taliban. It’s possible that once negotiations begin, that the United States might be able to provide air support as well.
In fact, some believe that the Pakistani military might join in. There are rumors of soldiers surrendering to the Taliban in this area, or being killed trying to leave the area by foot. This would be bad for Pakistan, and they’ve been fighting with the United States in Azad Kashmir. Therefore, if the Pakistanis took action against the Taliban in Kunduz, the United States would be taking action against them, too.
Even if the Pakistanis do join up with the Northern Alliance and go after the Taliban, they won’t be able to completely take control of the Kunduz airport area. If the Pakistanis did capture the airport, they’d still have to fight to hold it against the Taliban and their allies. Whether or not the Pakistanis can win that fight, will depend upon how strong the Pakistani Army is. With the Taliban being a mix of international terrorists, and locals with weapons to fight wars, it’s not an area that the Pakistanis can completely control.
Will the Pakistanis be able to hold the areas surrounding the airport? It’s possible, but if they tried, they could quickly be overwhelmed. Is this a military maneuver to try to take territory back from the Northern Alliance? Some speculate so, and it is one possibility. But the fact remains that one group, whether it’s the Northern Alliance or the Pakistanis, is going to be very difficult to defeat, no matter what.