The Taliban * control three-quarters of the territory of the Islamic Republic, and feel the closeness of complete victory, after which they will begin to solve a strategic task – to build an “Islamic Emirate” *. Probably, the “disciples” will want more than the power in one country.

After the clashes in the border zone in northern Afghanistan near Shortepa district, on June 23, more than 50 Afghan border guards and soldiers with weapons in their hands “retreated” to the territory of Uzbekistan, where they were detained and sent back. The Uzbek Foreign Ministry said: “Any attempts to illegally cross into Uzbek territory will be severely suppressed, and the most stringent measures will be taken against violators of the state border.”

Uzbekistan seeks to maintain traditionally friendly and good-neighborly relations with Afghanistan, to maintain neutrality. Tashkent is closely following the development of the military-political situation in the neighboring country. The likely escalation of hostilities in the northern provinces of the IRA will lead to a large flow of refugees from Afghanistan, which cannot be stopped by the forces of Uzbek border guards and statements by the Foreign Ministry. Neighborhood is under threat.

On June 22, the Taliban seized a key section of the Tajik border – the Sherkhan-Bandar customs and trade crossing, through which the main trade between the countries of South and Central Asia is carried out. Border guards and government troops were dispersed, and more than 130 troops fled to Tajik territory, where they were allowed to remain for reasons of humanism and good neighborliness.

In the provinces of Kunduz and Takhar adjacent to Tajikistan, eight districts and two border checkpoints have come under the control of the Taliban. Militants also seized the Khash region in the Afghan province of Badakhshan. A common border with a length of more than 1,300 km with the belligerent Afghanistan makes Tajikistan the most vulnerable of the Central Asian states.

On the horizon is the Islamic Emirate

The Taliban have not yet crossed borders, but according to the authorities, in the Afghan provinces of Tahor and Badakhshan, citizens of Central Asian countries are fighting in the ranks of radical groups. In 2017-2020, Uzbekistan returned 86 of its citizens from Afghanistan (they participated in the battles and were captured by the IRA special services), and how many are still left with the Taliban is unknown. Such facts testify to the influence of the terrorist movement in the countries of Central Asia.

In a swift offensive in May-June, the Taliban captured 50 districts of Afghanistan (excluding those previously conquered). Over the past day alone, militants took control of eight regional centers in different parts of the Islamic Republic, captured 11 counties on June 20, and blocked the highway (in Baghlan province) connecting Kabul with the country’s northern provinces. In the north, the main cities – Mazar-i-Sharif, Puli-Khumri, Kunduz – are under siege. The administrative centers of most of the Afghan provinces are “surrounded” by the Taliban-dominated regions. The likelihood of a fall in Kabul is high. Militia units that are being formed in the provinces of Takhar, Baghlan, Jauzjan, Sari-Pul, Faryab, Kunduz, Balkh, Parvan, Kandahar, Badghis will not replace the regular army and professional police.

Often, government forces surrender their positions without a fight (local politicians and tribal elders enter into surrender agreements with the troops). In the province of Sari Pul in mid-June, the Taliban “by agreement” seized 20 Humvees, 50 army trucks, 30 pickup trucks, about 300 M-16 assault rifles and several tons of ammunition from an Afghan army base.

American intelligence concluded that the current Afghan government could collapse six months after the withdrawal of foreign troops, that is, by early 2022. This is an optimistic option. There is an even darker forecast, where government forces are given only three months.

Events are developing according to the most severe negative scenario. The intensity of hostilities in Afghanistan is growing. The seizure of power by the Taliban will inevitably lead to a surge in violence in the country, and a significant activation of three dozen rival terrorist groups, including IS * and Al-Qaeda * (banned in Russia), which completely do not recognize existing state borders. Therefore, the projection of hostilities into Central Asia is only a matter of time.

Presidents and troops on the move

Neighboring countries are preparing to counter the expansion of international terrorism by all possible means. The government of Uzbekistan is determined to provide “all-round economic and humanitarian support to the brotherly Afghan people,” but in the current situation it is just as expedient to keep the powder dry and the troops ready for battle. On June 24, Uzbekistan began a surprise check of the combat readiness of units and units of the Tashkent and Southwestern Special Military Districts, air defense troops and the Air Force. Military personnel improve coordination and field training. Battalion tactical exercises are being deployed at the Angren and Termez military training grounds: at the location of the conditional enemy, the troops inflict air and artillery strikes.

According to the CSTO Joint Staff, on June 25, a joint training session was held for duty shifts of defense departments and ministries of emergency situations of the Organization’s member states. Actions have been worked out in case of an incident on the state border of one of the CSTO member states in the Central Asian region. According to the plan of the training, the emergency situation arose as a result of the actions of terrorists.

On June 24, in the foothills of the Karshytau ridge, an exercise was held by the reconnaissance units of the 201st Russian military base in Tajikistan with the involvement of more than 300 military personnel and 50 units of military equipment. According to the legend of the maneuvers, aerial reconnaissance discovered a convoy of an armed bandit group, which was moving in cars along a mountain serpentine. To organize ambushes on the route of the mock enemy in the mountains, a reconnaissance group was transferred by helicopters of the army aviation. Using grenade launchers and sniper rifles, the scouts knocked out the head and trailing vehicles, transmitted the coordinates for directing artillery fire to completely destroy the bandit group.

On June 23, the presidents of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan Emomali Rahmon and Shavkat Mirziyoyev spoke about the situation in Afghanistan. In addition, Rakhmon discussed the military-political situation in the region with the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Kazakhstan intends to provide free military-technical assistance to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. In particular, cartridges of 5.45 mm caliber will be transferred in the amount of 3.2 million units, 23 mm cartridges – 20.7 thousand units and 82 mm mortar rounds – 10 thousand units.

On June 22, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev held talks on Afghan issues in a bilateral format in Dushanbe with his colleagues from Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Interaction continues within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (which includes China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan). The Kremlin believes that against the background of the withdrawal of NATO troops and the activation of terrorist groups, the situation in Afghanistan requires special attention.

Earlier, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held talks with his Central Asian colleagues. The defense departments of Russia and Uzbekistan have prepared a strategic partnership program in the military field for 2021 – 2025. In Dushanbe, the Commander of the Central Military District of the RF Armed Forces, Colonel-General Alexander Lapin and the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Tajikistan, Colonel-General Sherali Mirzo discussed bilateral military cooperation and plans for joint combat training activities in 2021.

Note that since 2014, the Russian side has helped train more than 7,000 Tajik military specialists, and this year another 140 tankers and 70 mortar gunners will join their ranks, which will further increase the combat readiness of the Tajik Armed Forces.

After the withdrawal of foreign troops, the United States plans to leave about 650 American troops in Afghanistan to guard its embassy. Obviously, Washington no longer cares about the security of the IRA state created by American standards. The negative consequences of global corrections of the United States will have to be eliminated by the Afghans themselves and regional neighbors.

* Organization or association is prohibited in Russia and a number of other countries

The opinion of the author may not coincide with the position of the editorial board

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