The armed group claimed that the Taliban had occupied Kunduz, the third capital city it had occupied in the past three days.
The developments on Sunday come as the Afghan government is struggling to confront armed groups because it has opened up new front lines, and years of negotiations between Kabul and the organization have clearly broken down.
Al Jazeera had a conversation with Ahmad Shujjamar, the head of international affairs of the Afghanistan National Security Council, to understand the Afghan government’s understanding of the situation.
Al Jazeera: The Taliban occupied territories at such a rapid rate. Why can’t the Afghan army challenge it?
Ahmed Shuja Jamal: The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (NDSF) cannot resolve these situations. In the past three or four months, they have been able and fully capable of fighting stubbornly in multiple provinces.
Although the Taliban have received a large number of personnel and weapons, the NDSF is still able to do so. Because, if you think about it, the Taliban were able to cause trouble in 13 or 14 of the 34 provinces in the previous battle seasons, summer and spring and early autumn.
This year, all of a sudden, they were actually able to promote their activities to almost all provinces. NDSF is enduring this upgrade because if you have 14 people, you will send them to 14 provinces with 14 guns. You cannot do the same for 34 provinces.
The fact is that the Taliban received personnel, weapons and explosives, as well as commands from our southern border, Pakistan.That’s why [they] Can endure such strong resistance across the country.
Al Jazeera: Do you accept that all these places fall into the hands of the Taliban, because it sounds like you mean that the Afghan army is enduring the organization?
Jamal: If you focus on a given time, at any given moment, a province may already be under the control of the Taliban. But I think the situation is still completely unstable, which means that, as we said, the Afghan defense and security forces are actually gathering and driving the Taliban out of Kunduz Province.
Similar actions are taking place in Sheberghan, and similar actions are taking place in the other provinces that you have listed as falling into the hands of the Taliban.
Because this is the truth, the truth is that the Taliban can come forward and grab all these headlines. These headlines have driven the conversation between you and me today, but they cannot control the capital cities. They can’t do this at all. As you just said, the last time they were able to occupy any provincial capital was in 2015 six years ago.
This really shows the NDSF’s ability to hold its ground and drive the Taliban out. The tragic reality of this land changing hands, as well as the push for the Taliban to enter these areas that have been peaceful until now, are civilians who really bear the brunt.
Because we have seen civilian casualties increase as the Taliban escalated violence. Approximately two-thirds of the casualties were women and children, which illustrates the Taliban’s modus operandi, that is, they used private houses to hide while launching attacks, which caused terrible losses to civilians.
If you allow me, let me add that Kunduz Province is also very important in another aspect.
Kunduz is the gateway to Central Asia, because if the Taliban can establish a foothold in the province, then they can establish contacts with multiple terrorist organizations, IMU in Uzbekistan, Ansar Allah in Tajikistan, and many other terrorist organizations . Central Asia, so the NDSF is fighting here not only for us, but also for Central Asia and surrounding areas.
We are fighting the threat of transnational terrorism in the form of the Taliban.
Al Jazeera: The US B52 has been used to support the Afghan army in the south. What happens when Americans leave because they are leaving at the end of this month?
Jamal: For many years, the Afghan Air Force itself has been at war with the Taliban positions. It has been overloaded, mainly because we have several aircraft under repair, some of which are repaired in-house by our own Afghan mechanics and technicians, and some of them have been sent overseas to other countries with better technical capabilities. .
Therefore, the Afghan Air Force can make up for some shortcomings from the B52 left by the United States. It is important for us to also recognize that we need air protection because we are fighting an asymmetrical war, I mean the Taliban are fighting on the streets.
They are installing improvised explosive devices. These are actually anti-personnel mines on the streets and in people’s homes, which makes it very difficult and time-consuming to find and dismantle these bombs when you drive the Taliban away.
Al Jazeera: The Taliban has made so many benefits, how do you continue to negotiate with it for peace?
Jamal: Afghanistan has always opened the door to peace, and we will continue to be open to negotiations and a comprehensive ceasefire. Even though the Taliban pushed their luck on this table, the door did not close.
But we challenged the Taliban to actually demonstrate their willingness for peace and match their actions with what they have said not only to us but to the rest of the world in the past few years.
This is why we believe that the UN Security Council should convene an emergency meeting to evaluate the Taliban’s remarks and their actions, to evaluate the humanitarian situation that the Taliban brings to Afghan civilians, and how this organization—under such severe sanctions by the United Nations, regional countries Obligation not to provide them with weapons and weapons-to be able to obtain weapons and weapons.
These are some of the questions we hope to raise in the near future, as we are fighting against the threats that are constantly resurfaced and using resources from the border to continue to rejuvenate.
Al Jazeera: Afghanistan once accused Pakistan of assisting the Taliban, but recently, the Spinboldak border crossing between the two countries was closed by the Taliban due to Pakistan’s implementation of visa requirements. What do you think of this development?
Jamal: This is well-documented, and it is not just an allegation from the Afghan government; you talk to the UN Security Council, their analysis and sanctions monitoring team will issue reports regularly, you talk to independent experts, and you talk to the United States in the region.I think everyone believes [this is the reality]I think this is a data from the US Department of Defense in 2014: Among the many explosive devices used to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan, 80% use ammonium nitrate. Ammonium nitrate is both a fertilizer and a precursor of explosives. Produced in two Pakistani factories.
Therefore, with this introduced war capability, it is difficult for any major country, including the United States, to single-handedly defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.
But you are right. Customs play an important role in the Taliban’s ability to regenerate, but this is not the only thing. Another thing is that the Taliban are involved in cross-border and transnational organized crime, planting, producing and smuggling drugs to Iran, but also through Central Asia and Russia and Europe.
They can also extort money from people who drive commercial goods and truck drivers across the country, which is what really feeds the Taliban. Although the income from the border is staggering, it is actually only a small part of their income for war.