Taliban militia has gone into celebration frenzy after the US forces evacuated the Bagram airbase, some 60 kilometers north of Kabul.
“All coalition and American troops have departed Bagram Air Base last night (July 1). The base was handed over to the ANDSF,” tweeted Fawad Aman. He said the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces will protect the base and use it to combat terrorism,” an Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman confirmed
Evacuation of the Bagram base, which served as the nucleus of the U.S-led counter-terror fight since under Operation Enduring Freedom, came on the back of successive Taliban victories across Afghanistan.
Taliban reportedly have taken – fully or partially – some 120 districts in northern and northeastern Afghanistan. Although these numbers are disputed by officials in Kabul, yet the militia seems to be ascendant and mounting pressure on the Afghan forces even in the northern non-Pashtoon areas.
Surprisingly, Russia has downplayed concerns about the dramatic insurgent advances and said these advances don’t threaten the stability of neighboring Central Asian states and Moscow’s regional security interests.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told reporters in Moscow (July 1) “that Taliban fighters have captured 30 districts over the last ten days alone and Afghan forces are struggling to contain the advances.
“We believe and our information also supports this idea that the stepped-up Taliban activities are not aimed at aggravating (Afghanistan’s) relations with the neighboring countries,” Zakharova said.
Does it imply that Moscow is reckoning with a possible implosion of the Afghan Defense Forces and a possible take over by the Taliban? That is a scary scenario. All major neighbors of Afghanistan – Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran – had recently reiterated they will not accept if Taliban took capital Kabul by force.
The latest statement from the foreign ministry does not directly address the issue but implies that Taliban military victories may be part of their spring offensive and hence should be no cause of worry for the neighborhood.
Does this signify the unfolding of a new proxy war in Afghanistan with clear divisions between India and US on the one side, and Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran on the other? If so, the post-US-withdrawal scenario offers no promise of a mutually negotiated intra-Afghan settlement, said former ambassador Ayaz Wazir.