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Taliban Offensive Act in Panjshir Raise Fear of Civil War in Afghanistan

September 07, 2021

On Sunday, Taliban fighters advanced deep into Afghanistan’s last holdout province of Panjshir, as the top US general warned that the country faces a wider civil war that would provide helpful environment for an upsurge of terrorism. The Taliban are attempting to crush insurgent forces defending the mountainous Panjshir Valley following their lightning-fast rout of Afghanistan’s army last month and celebrations on Monday when the last US troops flew out after 20 years of war.

The Taliban, who arrived in Kabul three weeks ago at a rate that analysts say surprised even hard – line Islamists, have yet to finalize their new regime. However, top US General Mark Milley has challenged whether they will be able to retain power as they transition from guerrilla to government. In a depressing assessment, Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “I think there’s at least a very strong likelihood of a wider civil war.” “This will create conditions that lead to the reestablishment of Al Qaeda or the expansion of the Islamic State group,” he told Fox News.

Afghanistan’s new leaders have promised to be more open and accepting than their predecessors, who also came to power after years of conflict, first the Soviet invasion of 1979, and then a brutal civil war. They have promised a more “open and accepting” government that will reflect Afghanistan’s diverse ethnic makeup, though women are unlikely to be included at the highest levels. However, women will be permitted to join university this time as long as classes are separated by gender or at least separated by a curtain, according to the Taliban’s education authority in a lengthy document issued on Sunday.

Female students are also required to wear an Abaya (robe) and Niqab (face veil), as compare to the even more conservative Burqa required under the previous Taliban regime. On Saturday, dozens of women protested in Kabul for a second day, demanding the right to work and inclusion in the government, with social media videos showing Taliban fighters trying to distribute the protestors. Few in Panjshir, a mountainous valley north of Kabul that resisted Soviet occupation and the Taliban’s first rule from 1996 to 2001, appear to believe their promises.

According to the Italian aid organization Emergency, Taliban forces have reached the Panjshir village of Anabah, where they run a medical clinic. “Many people have fled from local villages in recent days,” Emergency said in a statement on Saturday, adding that it was still providing medical services and treating a “small number of injured.” Anabah is located about 25 kilometers north of the valley’s 115-kilometer length, but unverified reports suggested that the Taliban had also taken control of other areas.

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