Afghan ‘civil war’ warning

Taliban fighters advanced deep into the last holdout province of Panjshir yesterday, as the top US general warned Afghanistan faces a wider civil war that would offer fertile ground for a resurgence of terrorism.

Following their lightning fast rout of Afghanistan’s army last month – and celebrations when the last US troops flew out last week after 20 years of war – the Taliban are seeking to crush resistance forces defending the mountainous Panjshir Valley.

Taliban official Bilal Karimi yesterday reported heavy clashes in Panjshir, while the Italian aid agency Emergency said Taliban forces had reached the Panjshir village of Anabah.

The Taliban, who rolled into Kabul three weeks ago at a speed that analysts say likely surprised even the hardline Islamists themselves, are yet to finalize their new regime.

But US General Mark Milley questioned whether they can consolidate power as they seek to shift from a guerrilla force to government.

“I think there’s at least a very good probability of a broader civil war,” said Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “That will then in turn lead to conditions that could, in fact, lead to a reconstitution of Al-Qaeda or a growth of ISIS [Islamic State group].”

Emphasizing that he could not predict what would happen next in Afghanistan, he nonetheless gave a bleak assessment. “The conditions are very likely,” Milley said, “that you could see a resurgence of terrorism coming out of that general region within 12, 24, 36 months.”

REUTERS

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