In Afghanistan, the victorious offensive of the Taliban militants continues. Entire provinces are taken over by the radicals, the Afghan army is retreating, leaving stocks of weapons and armored vehicles. Separate army units join the ranks of the militants. In the event that terrorists succeed in seizing power in the country, the war may spread to other Central Asian states, which, according to experts, are not ready to repel this threat.

The situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate. On Tuesday it became known that the territory of the province of Badakhshan came under the control of the militants of the Taliban group banned in the Russian Federation. Thousands of Afghan soldiers laid down their arms and surrendered to terrorists. Many military men fled to the territory of neighboring Tajikistan.

The Taliban offensive is developing against the backdrop of the ongoing withdrawal of the US and NATO troops from Afghanistan. US forces and their allies have abandoned a military base in the city of Bagram, the main NATO stronghold in the country, located just 60 kilometers from Kabul. Earlier, the Bundeswehr contingent left its main base in Mazar-i-Sharif. Before the withdrawal, the military from the NATO mission destroyed most of the military equipment, despite requests from the Afghan authorities to transfer it to Kabul.

The Pentagon, not without reason, believes that in the near future, weapons may fall into the hands of the Taliban. During the offensive, terrorists seized large army warehouses and military equipment sites of the Afghan army. The exact amount of military equipment that the militants got as trophies is still unknown. According to Lostarmour, which analyzes the photo and video footage from the combat zone, the Taliban captured and destroyed at least 77 armored vehicles, excluding artillery and vehicles. These are only those trophies, the photos of which made it onto the Web.

Some analysts estimate the Taliban trophies at 700 military vehicles and tens of tons of ammunition and weapons. Among the equipment that went to the militants were tanks, 122-mm artillery and a large number of light armored vehicles. Along with the equipment, the Taliban received trained crews from among the former Afghan military, who preferred to go over to the side of the terrorists.

Government forces are still holding the central regions of the country under control and repelling attempts by the Taliban to attack. The Afghan Air Force is actively using aircraft received from the United States and inflicting damage on large Taliban formations that do not have air defense systems.

However, despite some tactical successes of the government forces, the militants continue to successfully advance throughout the country. So far, 700 American troops remain in Kabul, covering the evacuation of the US Embassy and military property. However, soon these troops will have to leave Afghanistan, after which the country’s authorities will be left alone with the Taliban.

What is happening in Afghanistan seriously worries the governments of neighboring states in the region. On Monday, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon announced mobilization into the ranks of the country’s armed forces. The decision was taken against the backdrop of news that the Taliban had almost completely taken control of the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

The media reported on the arrival of large army reinforcements at the border between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, and the flights of the Uzbek Air Force have become more frequent in the border zone.

Despite the fact that the Taliban promised not to interfere in the internal affairs of neighboring countries, most experts are inclined to believe that the conflict in Afghanistan will sooner or later spill over to neighboring states in the region. In an interview with The Eastern Herald, military expert Alexei Valyuzhenich predicted several scenarios for the development of events.

–  What happened “about which the Bolsheviks had warned for a long time,” so to speak. A week or two ago it seemed: where is that Afghanistan, there is nothing threatening. And now this is almost the number one topic. The success of the Taliban was absolutely expected – in fact, it was even a foregone conclusion from the very moment the US army began to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

The government and army of Afghanistan created by the Americans showed, as expected, that they are incapable of resistance and, in general, of functioning without constant support from outside. Exactly the same thing happened in the summer of 2014, when IS militants invaded Iraq. The same picture. Detachments of ordinary bandits smashed the Iraqi army, seized its arsenals, and a little more – would have taken Baghdad. Then the situation was decided by the intervention of Iran. Who will pull out the pro-American government in Afghanistan? I don’t know. Frankly speaking, they have no chance.

–  How does the success of the Taliban threaten the republics of Central Asia?

–  Directly – so far nothing. That is, the Taliban are unlikely to now be preparing for a full-scale invasion of the north. But there is a very serious indirect threat. There is a powerful Islamist movement in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and other post-Soviet republics. Militants from these countries went to fight in Iraq, Syria, same Afghanistan. To be honest, the Dushanbe OMON commander fled to IS along with a group of officers. Surely the terrorists have their own people in the power structures of these countries, their secret cells. And now they can raise their heads. And only then, to help brothers in faith and ideology, the Taliban can rise.

–  How do you assess the chances of the armed forces of the Central Asian republics – Russia’s allies in the CSTO – to repel the Taliban threat?

–  Honestly, with all due respect, no way. There are many in the ranks of the Taliban who have been fighting for 20-30 years without interruption. They have tremendous experience. They and the US Army often, sorry, drove. So they have experience, they have motivation. Until recently, there was a shortage of weapons. But thanks to the Pentagon, they now have weapons. So now we will be observing such an “IG 2.0” sample of 2014-2015.

Of the regional powers that can influence the situation in Afghanistan, first of all, Iran should be named. Much will depend on their actions, on their army. But I think they will limit themselves to creating a security zone along their eastern borders. In an amicable way, both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan should do the same. Create some buffer zones in the territories inhabited by ethnic Tajiks and Uzbeks, and squeeze the Taliban south. Do they have the strength? It seems to me – no.

The army of Uzbekistan is probably the best in the region in terms of a number of indicators. But they don’t have enough strength for such an operation. No strength, no experience.

The pressure from the outside will increase, the pressure from the inside will also increase. In general, in my opinion, the situation can only be resolved by joint efforts of a broad coalition, which must include Russia, China, India, Iran, the countries of Central Asia and, perhaps, Turkey, which is already ready to intervene in the conflict. Otherwise, the situation will continue to spiral out of control due to the “domino effect”.

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Muzaffar Ahmad Noori Bajwa
Editor in chief of The Eastern Herald. Studied Information Technology and Management. An OSINT Partisan & Political Analyst, Human Rights activist, and Social Activist.