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Taliban has detailed plan, and situation in Afghanistan develops in its favor, expert says

According to Andrey Kortunov, the further development of a political and economic conjuncture in Afghanistan would "largely depend on the character of relations between the big trio of regional actors"

MOSCOW, July 26. /TASS/. The Taliban militants (outlawed in Russia) are acting on a thoroughly thought-through strategic plan on the restoration of control over Afghanistan, and the current situation in the field is developing in their favor, Andrey Kortunov, CEO of the Russian International Affairs Council think tank, told TASS Monday.

"We can say now that the Taliban seem to have a rather thought-through and detailed strategic plan on restoring control over Afghanistan," the expert said. "The situation, of course, continues to sway in the Taliban’s favor."

The expert explained that the Taliban’s agenda encompasses at least two basic aspects and includes closing borders with Central Asian states on the north and with Iran on the west.

"They take control of both the international trade and potential arms shipments - everything that goes past the border," Kortunov said. "The second plan involves taking complete control of the rural areas in Afghanistan provinces and blocking major cities - first and foremost, Kabul, as well as a number of other cities."

Another part of the strategy of the Taliban, it being a Pashtun movement, is "neutralization of ethnic minorities" and thwarting all attempts at the restoration of the Northern Alliance of establishment of other "major political forces that may obstruct or counter the Taliban," Kortunov added.

A view on a perspective

Despite their successes on the ground, the Taliban "does not hurry to begin the attack on the capital," as they realize that urban warfare may have rather heavy consequences, Kortunov noted.

"The urban environment does not sympathize with the Taliban too much," he underscored. "As a result, they may face major casualties and have trouble seizing control over Afghanistan in the future."

According to the analyst, the factor of social perception, along with the threat of international sanctions, also play a significant role in keeping the movement from completely annihilating "the state structures and institutions established in the last 20 years."

"The previous experience of the Taliban being in power indicates that, even if the movement does not state a goal of social and economic modernization of the country, it is still necessary to fulfill some basic social and economic demands of the population to hold on to power," Kortunov noted. "Therefore, I think that we will see some transitional period, but it is obvious that the current president and its team will have to leave the political stage. Maybe, there will be some transitional period; maybe, some sort of a coalition government."

External factor

According to Kortunov, the further development of a political and economic conjuncture in Afghanistan would "largely depend on the character of relations between the big trio of regional actors." Those actors are, according to the expert: China, "which has the most significant interest in Afghanistan, and that the Taliban is most interested in"; Pakistan with its "traditional ties" with the Taliban; and, to a certain degree, Iran, whose position "in western Afghanistan has always been strong," and which it intends to "preserve and, maybe even reinforce."

"Most likely, this trio will interact with the Taliban, and it is clear who has what interests," Kortunov said. "It is very important for China to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a platform for terror attacks in Xinjiang. Clearly, there is an interest to prevent an influx of refugees, as well as concerns over drug trafficking. Overall, Russian interests coincide with the Chinese here."

On April 14, US President Joe Biden announced the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. This led to a deterioration in security in Afghanistan, with the Taliban ramping up its offensive on a number of fronts. According to Taliban representatives, they were able to establish control over roughly 85% of territory, including borders with five countries: Iran, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.