Taliban to wreak carnage across Afghanistan in new ‘spring offensive’ when Nato and US troops pull out
THE Taliban could wreak carnage across Afghanistan in a new “spring offensive” when troops pull out, the US Secretary of State has warned.
In a letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Anthony Blinken proposed a 90-day Reduction-in-Violence that could prevent retaliation from the Islamic fundamentalist group.
In the letter, obtained by the BBC on Sunday, the US Secretary of State called for a new international peace effort to be overseen by the UN in a bid to help reach a “permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”.
The intervention will be urgently needed, Mr Blinken said, to prevent the security situation from deteriorating.
Turkey will also be asked to host a senior-level meeting with both sides to “finalise the peace agreement”.
Under a deal between the Taliban and the Trump administration, all remaining US forces are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of April.
US troops invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to remove the Taliban from power in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
At the height of the deployment in 2011, the US had around 110,000 troops and it was costing $100bn a year.
In January, the Biden administration said it would review the peace agreement made with the Taliban under Donald Trump.
In that deal, the remaining 9,600 US-led Nato troops would pull out by May 1 in exchange for Taliban security guarantees.
Critics say pulling out would hand the Taliban a victory after the terror group went back on promises to stop attacks and cut ties with al-Qaeda.
Meanwhile, European diplomats have claimed that Nato’s two-decade war against the Taliban is “unwinnable”.
One European diplomat said ahead of Nato talks in February: “This war is not winnable, but Nato cannot allow itself to lose it pitifully.”
And Germany’s defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said: “We can already say that we are not yet in a position to talk about the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan.”
She added: “This also means a changed security situation, an increased threat for the international forces, also for our own forces. We have to prepare for this, and we will certainly discuss this.”
Nato countries are desperate not to see Afghanistan slide back into chaos after the enormous cost in lives and money since operations began in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
They fear Afghanistan could once again provide sanctuary for groups like Al-Qaeda, and already ISIS has a growing presence in the country which it could use as a launchpad for attacks on the West.
“While no ally wants to stay in Afghanistan longer than necessary, we will not leave before the time is right,” Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday.
Last February the US agreed to begin pulling all its troops out of Afghanistan in a deal signed with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.
In return the Taliban agreed to stop violence and engage in talks with the Afghan government to reach a long-term peace agreement.
But violence has raged across the country after those talks broke down.
In recent months Taliban fighters launched a string of offensives against two provincial capitals, and were blamed for a wave of assassinations targeting journalists, politicians and activists.
Meanwhile, al-Qaeda is regaining power in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban along the border with Pakistan.
According to the Mirror, the group’s leader Ayman Zawahiri may have forged a close relationship with the Taliban – an Islamic fundamentalist group that is still waging war against western forces.
The US Treasury believes Taliban groups have discussed joining forces with militants funded by al-Qaeda.
The terror cult are set to become as dangerous as they were during the 9/11 attacks twenty years ago, an expert has claimed.
A senior British terrorism expert told the Daily Mirror: “Compared to Zawahiri he is likely to be a much more effective leader, at least so or more so even than bin Laden.”
It comes following rumours that Zawahiri has died, prompting intelligence agencies to ready themselves for an “al-Qaeda rebrand”.
Zawahiri took the reins from Osama bin Laden following his death in 2011 but has not been seen for years.