Saturday 14 August 2021

Afghanistan: Three more major cities are under Taliban control, as the government’s forces near collapse.


        Map of Afghanistan: Taliban-controlled areas  
 in orange
, Kabul in enclave on the east

In Afghanistan, three more major cities are under Taliban control, as the government’s forces near collapse. The Taliban now control large parts of the north, south and west of the country. Afghanistan's Western-backed government is now confined to the centre and east as well as the capital, Kabul, and as the Taliban start closing in on these cities, Western countries scrambled to evacuate their citizens from the capital.  Kabul and Jalalabad, in eastern Afghanistan, are now the only big cities not in Taliban hands  ( U.S. sending more troops to evacuate Kabul of personnel as Taliban sweep through Afghanistan CBC 14th August 2021).

As night fell in Kabul on Saturday, hundreds of people were huddled in tents or in the open in the city, by roadsides or in car parks, a resident said. "You can see the fear in their faces," he said. Many Afghans have fled the provinces for the capital, driven out by fighting and fearful of a return to hardline Islamist rule as resistance from Afghan government forces crumbles. [...] An Afghan government official confirmed on Friday that Kandahar, the biggest city in the south and the heartland of the Taliban, was under the militants' control, as U.S.-led forces complete their withdrawal after 20 years of war launched after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001. [...] Visa applications at embassies were running in the tens of thousands, officials said, and Washington was asking countries to temporarily house Afghans who worked for the U.S. government.
[...] Hospitals are struggling to cope with the numbers of people wounded in the fighting, with 17,000 treated in July and the first week of August in facilities supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the aid agency said. The explosion in fighting has raised fears of a refugee crisis and a rollback of gains in human rights, especially for women. Canada said it would resettle more than 20,000 vulnerable Afghans — including women leaders, human rights workers and reporters — to protect them from Taliban reprisals


In a statement late on Saturday, the Taliban said their gains showed they were popularly accepted by the Afghan people, and they sought to reassure both Afghans and foreigners that they would be safe. The Islamic Emirate (Taliban) "once again assures all its citizens that it will, as always, protect their life, property and honour and create a peaceful and secure environment for its beloved nation. No one should worry about their life," the militant group said, adding that diplomats and aid workers would also face no problems.
Though it is by no means the most important problem now, it is unclear what is happening in the Kabul Museum. Equally unclear is the fate of the site at Mes Aynak in a desert region 25 kilometres southeast of Kabul, where a projected copper mine is threatening a complex of Buddhist monasteries. Bamyan province, in which the site of the Bamiyan Buddhas lies, is still in government hands, but seems likely to pass under Taliban control soon, halting any work being done on teh site of the destruction carried out there on the 6th and 7th century complex of monuments there in March 2001. At the moment there are 1,688 results for "Bactrian" antiquities on, many of them (122) coins and fake ancient coins. Let's see what that looks like in a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile the UK callously abandons many of the people that worked to support their presence in the country: Emma Graham-Harrison, ' Afghans linked to British beg: Please help save our lives from Taliban' Guardian. Sun 15 Aug 2021.

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