Taliban’s intense attacks during the winters have spurred the Afghan government to prepare for spring battles, which the international community fears will further endanger the peace process in Afghanistan.
Following the sharp increase in the Taliban offensives since the US-Taliban agreement, General Scott Miller, Commander of US forces and NATO-led resolute support mission told Reuters that “Taliban violence is much higher than historical norms,” he added, It just doesn’t create the conditions to move forward in what is hopefully a historic turning point for Afghanistan”.
Clashes typically slow down during the snowy winter months before the Taliban’s “spring offensives” around march, however, this winter battles have escalated.
Intensified clashes during the winter months are indicating that there would be a spring offensive, this war could be more fierce and acute which will be viewed against the spirit of Doha agreements, Reuters reported.
The peace negotiations have stalled in Doha and the Taliban leaders have left Qatar, leading to fears that intra-afghan talks could be on the brink of collapse, a senior state department official told Reuters.
Reuters quoted Miller, “If the violence isn’t reduced, it’s going to make a peace process very, very difficult; it would be very difficult for any side to make the necessary compromises,”
The Afghan government has instructed security forces to carry out a comprehensive troop restructuring and design operations to prepare for a “tough and hard” spring offensive, two government sources told Reuters.
Government sources in contact with Reuters indicated that the Afghan government has ordered security forces to carry out comprehensive military restructuring and design operations for “Tough and Hard” spring battles ahead, adding that “Afghanistan’s special forces from different institutions such as the military and police are being streamlined to operate under one command. Highly experienced commanders have been appointed to key areas, and security forces were planning to conduct more airstrikes to avoid losses on the ground”.
Though the Afghan security forces remain in active defense mode, an Afghan security council said that Afghan national and defense forces are “ready for any kind of war”
Four Taliban sources said that most of their commanders had in recent weeks cut short annual training sessions after being called back to the battlefield to prepare for intensive fighting.
Sources in the Taliban said their commanders had recently cut short annual training sessions after being called back to the battlefield to prepare for war.
Another Taliban member from the group’s special force unit told Reuters pointing to foreign troops, “If they don’t leave Afghanistan on the preset date then the USA, NATO and the world will face a dangerous war, a war that never happened in the past 20 years,” he said.
Residents in north-eastern Afghanistan told Reuters that they noticed changes in the Taliban activities like the mass movement of the Taliban, meetings in mosques and they have begun food and recruitment drives.
“In the past two weeks the topics Taliban preachers preach, especially on Friday prayers… have changed,” a tribal elder from Kunduz province who did not want to be named told Reuters, “They preach about… fighting against invasion, and they openly invite people to join them. It’s a clear message that they are preparing for another fight this spring”.
This comes as the new Administration is reviewing its plans for Afghanistan and the US-Taliban deal.
General Scott Miller stressed on international troops becoming Taliban targets if the deal is breached.
According to Reuters, experts see a vanishing window of opportunity for the Afghan peace process, although both sides express their commitment to peace talks.
“Talks seem already very close to falling apart,” said Ashley Jackson, co-director of the Centre for the Study of Armed Groups at the Overseas Development Institute.
“The trouble is that (Washington) seems to grossly underestimate just how bad things could get and how quickly that could happen.” Reuters quoted Ashley.