WorldTaliban says they have besieged Panshir, the last stronghold outside their control,...

Taliban says they have besieged Panshir, the last stronghold outside their control, and calls for the territory to surrender

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The Taliban said on Wednesday it had surrounded Panshir, the only province that has so far resisted its advance, calling on local forces to reach an agreement. The radical group’s gesture comes as they approach announcing a Government, which they promised to be inclusive, and willing to gain internal legitimacy and international recognition. According to the Taliban, their supreme leader, the maulana Hibatullah Akhundzada will be the country’s top authority.

The mountainous Panshir, a Tajik fief that managed to avoid Soviet occupation and the previous Taliban regime, was the only one of 34 Afghan provinces that resisted the current guerrilla advance. Since the new takeover of Kabul on 15 August, they have joined the militia of Ahmad Massoud (son of the legendary commander) there. mujahideen of the same name) Army and Special Forces units and some local anti-Taliban militias. The then Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who proclaimed himself interim president in the face of Ashraf Ghani’s flight from the country, also took refuge in the valley of resistance.

But if the valley is a protection against invaders, its isolation and lack of communication with the outside make any resistance a quixotic attitude. So says Amir Khan Muttaqi, a top Taliban leader. “Given the failure of negotiations, our fighters are taking up positions on the four sides of the Panshir valley, but there is no reason to fight,” he said in an audio message broadcast by the website Al Emarah.

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Muttaqi reminded dissidents that if even with the support of the United States and NATO they were not able to defeat the Taliban, the chances are even smaller now. . Extremists have declared a general amnesty, but many former government officials or collaborators are suspicious of the promises, which has driven them underground as they look for a way to escape the country.

The resistant ones stand firm, at least for the time being. “Our message to the Taliban is that we want peace, but if they don’t accept it and enter by force, the battlefield awaits them,” replied a fighter quoted by the agency. France Presse. Resisting Taliban forces announced they had repelled two attacks by the new government on Monday and Tuesday, in which they said they had killed seven and 34 enemies respectively. The radicals in power did not mention these clashes.

Anti-Taliban militia in military training in Panshir province. AHMAD SAHEL ARMAN / AFP

Meanwhile, Taliban leaders are focused on following up on the new government. “The consultations are almost complete. (…) There is no doubt about the presence of the prince of believers [Akhundzada]. He will be the leader and there should be no doubt about it”, declared Anamullah Samangani, member of the Cultural Commission, quoted by the news channel ToloNews. The official narrative refers to it as rahbar or za’eem, religious titles meaning ‘leader’, not ‘president’ or ‘prime minister’. In this case, he will act as the highest authority, in the style of Iran’s head of state, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (although he is Shiite and the Taliban, Sunni).

It was Akhundzada who presided over in Kandahar, the Taliban fief, meetings with tribal leaders and religious dignitaries aimed at defining the composition of the expected team. Ahead of day-to-day functions as president or prime minister, all bets go to Abdulghani Baradar, the guerrilla co-founder and who led negotiations with the United States in Qatar. It remains to be seen how the power-sharing with the group’s other leaders, Mohammad Yaqoob and Sirajuddin Haqqani, who have a harder line than Baradar, remains to be seen. Neither former president Hamid Karzai nor the head of the Reconciliation Council, Abdullah Abdullah, with whom the Taliban has had contacts, will be in government, he told the BBC the number two of the Taliban Political Office in Doha, Abbas Stanekzai.

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