The Afghan government will retaliate against the Taliban’s recent offensive, which saw them take control of several dozen districts in the north, the Afghan president’s national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, told Sputnik.
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The government forces are “absolutely” planning a counterattack, Mohib said.
“The Taliban used the vacuum in which the Americans and other international troops were retrograding and launched an unannounced offensive. And that took many of the Afghan security forces by surprise. Because like I said, we were expecting peace, not war,” he said.
However, the people of Afghanistan are “determined” and want to “live in freedom,” Mohib continued.
“We want to see Taliban included in the government and be represented, but Afghans are not ready to have Taliban dominate all of Afghanistan and dictate the way Afghan people must live,” the security adviser said.
As serious as the situation is, the government hopes that it will not completely lose control of the north, Mohib said.
“The Afghan national defense and security forces along with the people who have come to support them are working to manage the security situation there,” the security adviser said.
Mohib also said that Afghanistan is keen to share information with Russia that it obtains from captured militants and hopes that Russia will reciprocate the gesture.
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Hamdullah Mohib arrived in Russia last week for talks with Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia’s national security committee. They spoke about the Afghan peace process and cooperation between intelligence and law enforcement agencies of the two countries.
“We have access to information from some of those that we have captured, intelligence about what their activities are and where their intentions are. That, I think, could be important information for Russia and Central Asia to align itself [sic] about what threats are faced,” he said.
The official added that Afghanistan would expect to have access to the same level of information collected by Russia on extremist groups operating in Central Asia. He said Kabul saw little difference between the Taliban and the Islamic State terror group.
“Reciprocally, I think, we can expect the same level of information from Russia about what it sees and the intelligence it receives on these groups,” Mohib said.
US President Joe Biden’s announcement of an imminent withdrawal from Afghanistan in April was met with a surge in violence, with dozens of districts in the country’s rural north falling to the Taliban in the past weeks. The White House said Friday that the pullout was expected to complete by the end of August.
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Hamdullah Mohib also said that Afghanistan may send security or defense troops abroad for specialist training, but it is conducting its own on-the-ground training now.
In June, NATO confirmed its commitment to keep training and funding Afghan forces after the withdrawal of international forces from the country. However, the training will happen outside Afghanistan.
“We do the training on the ground in Afghanistan ourselves,” Mohib said during his trip to Moscow for a meeting with Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia’s national security committee.
When asked if Afghanistan would be interested in Russian specialists providing on-the-ground training, the security adviser said that this was not needed “at this stage.”
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“But countries always look for technical cooperation, and as we do training for our security forces we look to other countries for specialist capabilities. We can send them off and get them trained for the specialized training. So, police, military, special forces. They all have different capabilities and every country has special capabilities for which we collaborate with them,” Mohib said.
After the Afghan forces complete basic training, they go through an assessment on where they can go for their specialized training, the security adviser said.
Taliban On Offensive
Hamdullah Mohib also said that if the Taliban’s offensive continues, this might plunge the country into a civil war.
In May, the United States and NATO officially began pulling out forces from Afghanistan, which prompted the Taliban to launch a series of attacks in the north of the country. In less than two months, the Taliban captured 50 out of Afghanistan’s 370 districts, UN envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons said on June 22.
“Some people in some of these districts that they overrun picked up arms against the Taliban. Now, for the time being, this is in support of the Afghan national defense and security forces, so it’s temporary. But if the Taliban offensive continues, this could prolong. And the problem with these groups is they can turn into militias and that by itself would lead to a civil war,” Mohib said.
The Afghan government hopes that the Taliban will commit to earnest talks that can help create a government that would include the Taliban and other parties, the security adviser said.
As the international troops keep leaving Afghanistan, the most important thing for the country is to ensure that it can “use this opportunity to create a stable Afghanistan and a stable region,” Mohib said.
“It’s a challenge for us in the country, on a domestic level, but it’s also a challenge for the region because if the results are not what we all want and what the Afghan people want, it will have consequences for Afghanistan first, but it will also have serious security consequences for Central Asia and also Russia,” the security adviser said.
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