Why Afghan forces must prevail over Taliban at Kunduz

The Afghan forces are engaged in a fierce battle with the Taliban at Kunduz in Afghanistan. The Afghan forces have claimed that they have re-taken the city from the Taliban fighters.

Even as the Afghan forces claimed that they have taken control of the city from the Taliban, several residents have said that fierce fighting still continues.

Why Afghan forces prevail over Taliban

For the Taliban the take over of Kunduz is important since this is an urban area and also after a long time it has managed to take over a large area as opposed to the smaller pockets that it has been seizing control over in the recent past.

Why the battle for Kunduz is important?

Last Monday the Taliban fighters took control of Kunduz which has around 300,000 people. The Taliban also boasted about the take over and planted its flags all over the city.

Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars says that the Taliban's territorial triumphs in Afghanistan have been limited to taking control of pockets of rural and remote areas.

This can be attributed to the international combat mission, improvements in Afghan war-fighting capacities, and an increasingly fractured and vulnerable insurgency.

Read More: Fighting as Afghan forces struggle to oust Taliban from Kunduz

With the Kunduz seizure, however, the Taliban has pulled off what it could not do in nearly the last decade and a half, and what arguably no militant group other than ISIS has been able to achieve over the same period, Kugelman explains.

Were the Afghan forces taken by surprise?

The build up of the Taliban in Kunduz was not an overnight move. There were reports suggesting that there was a build up of the Taliban forces for several weeks.

However looking at the manner in which the Taliban took over Kunduz, it becomes clear that the Afghan forces did not analyse the threat entirely.

Kugelman writes in the Wall Street Journal that, "It's hard to be optimistic that Afghanistan's national unity government will mount a robust and rapid response to the Kunduz seizure.

After all, this administration-which recently marked its first anniversary in power-still lacks a full cabinet, including a defense minister. Kabul's capacity to confront an emboldened insurgency is questionable given its inability to achieve even the most basic tasks of governance.

However, the Kunduz takeover underscores that the Taliban remains the biggest militant threat in Afghanistan, and that it can pull off, albeit on a smaller scale, the type of dramatic acts that ISIS can pull off in Iraq and Syria. This could boost Taliban recruitment efforts in Afghanistan, and dampen those of ISIS, Kugelman also states.

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