After US withdrawal, Afghanistan could well fall to Taliban: Watchdog

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A US government watchdog has said that the Afghan government in Kabul will be fighting for its life and could well fall to the Taliban after the United States completes its military withdrawal from the country in August.

The watchdog is charged with monitoring events on the ground.

Despite a series of cautiously optimistic assessments by high-ranking U.S. military officials and Afghan leaders, a new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) describes the situation as “bleak” and echoes concerns that Afghan security forces are not ready to mount any meaningful resistance, Voice Of America reported.

“The overall trend is clearly unfavorable to the Afghan government, which could face an existential crisis if it isn’t addressed and reversed,” Special Inspector General John Sopko wrote in the report, released Wednesday.

“The ANDSF (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces) has retaken some districts and the Afghan government still controls all 34 provincial capitals, including Kabul,” he added. “But from public reporting, the ANDSF appeared surprised and unready, and is now on its back foot.”

Just this past Sunday, the commander of U.S. Central Command, General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, told reporters in Kabul that the Afghan government “faces a stern test.”

But he added that despite attempts by the Taliban to create a sense of inevitability, “there is no preordained conclusion to this fight.”

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has also promised better results as well, saying that the Afghan military will be able to regain momentum by focusing its efforts on defending urban areas.

Help has also come in the form of U.S. airstrikes in support of Afghan forces, despite the U.S. no longer having aircraft based in Afghanistan. Officials have promised the strikes will continue unless the Taliban scale back their military offensive.

The SIGAR report, however, warns the Taliban have provided no reason to believe they will ease off on their attacks.

The report also suggests that the Taliban, beyond having momentum, appear to have a definitive psychological edge.

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