Just as a few years ago, forces of the Afghan Taliban movement have again reached the Tajik border. They have seized the strategically important city Taloqan, and the border city Imam-Sahib, as well as the district centers Hazarbag and Hodzhagar of the North Afghan province Takhar. According to news agencies, Taliban forces entered Hazarbag and Hodzhagar without meeting any organized resistance on the part of the Northern Alliance forces. There is an airfield in Hodzhagar located 10 kilometers from the Tajik-Afghan border, through which humanitarian aid was delivered to northern provinces of Afghanistan periodically, and, according to available information, ammunition for the forces of Ahmadshah Masoud. Talibs actually established control over a 100-kilometer part of the Tajik-Afghan border in the zone of responsibility of the Moscow and Pyandzh border guard detachments of Russian forces deployed in Tajikistan. Thus, the anti-Talib coalition has only one airfield left, which is located in Feyzabad in the center of Badakhshan. The Taliban has never advanced to that point,
Masoud has a bridgehead for withdrawal and concentration of his forces. The situation is difficult, but this is not a dead end. The situation would have been less complicated but for Pakistan’s to the Taliban. Masoud Khalili, the Ambassador of Afghanistan (of the Rabbani government) to India has announced that three senior officers of the Pakistani Armed Forces commanded the offensive of Taloqan. In addition to the Taliban themselves these officers also commanded 3,000 mercenaries, including militants from Arab countries and Chechnya, and Chinese Uighurs. At least 2,000 professional servicemen of the Pakistani Armed Forces currently participate in the bitter fighting against the forces of the Northern Alliance, adds Khalili.
It is a mystery who helps Ahmadshah Masoud, although it is not difficult to guess that this can only be Iran and Tajikistan. According to available information, the forces of Masoud are supplied from the Tajik airport Parhar. Henceforth this aid will obviously be transported only to the military airfield near Feyzabad. However, Dushanbe does not have very much force to organize a large and adequate aide to its fellow tribesmen. Masoud can rely more on Iran in receiving of such assistance. According to military sources, Ismail Khan, one of the enemies of Taliban movement, the former Governor of Herat, began recruiting volunteers for his army among the Afghan refugees in Iran. So far analysts do not known how this army will operate, and whether it will operate at all, but do not rule out that combat operations may be resumed in Western Afghanistan. According to them, analysis of the situation enables them to make such conclusion. Restarting of combat operations, for example, in Heart province, will allow the anti-Talib coalition to distract the enemy’s forces concentrated mainly in the north of the country. The southern front of the Northern Coalition is already operating near Kabul. The forces of Ahmadshah Masoud score a certain success near Charikar, Salang, and Bamian.
This is not a secret that the failure of Taliban movement, which supports terrorists, would be beneficial for majority of countries. The failure of Taliban is especially beneficial for Russia, because in this case the aid to the Chechen militants will be stopped. However we do not notice any aid of Russia to the Northern Alliance in its war against the Talibs.
Meanwhile, actions of official Ashkhabad and Tashkent currently hinder the plans of Moscow to some extent. Speaking at the 55th session of the UN General Assembly Aksoltan Ataeva, a representative of Turkmenistan to the UN, said, “Dialog and cooperation with the Afghan movement Taliban will bring much more results than its international isolation.” According to her, sanctions against Afghanistan are counterproductive, because they affect exclusively simple Afghans. Ataeva added that Turkmenistan advocated organization of negotiations between the warring parties under the US aegis, and would be ready to act as an intermediary.
During his visit to Ashkhabad President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan spoke similar words. He emphasized, “We wish the afghan people to solve the existing problem themselves, which will happen if there is not interference from outside. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, like no one else, are interested in a peaceful solving of all problems of this country.”
According to Karimov, the search for the ways to solve the Afghan problem is being transformed towards softening of the rigid stance with respect to Talibs. Karimov added that some changes also occurred in the Russian-American commission for settlement of the Afghan conflict. However, according to him, “We know little about the issues which the commission discussed, and about the changes which were taking place, but in any case the starting process will bring its results. Thus, I can tell you definitely that we can expect a certain progress in solving of the Afghan problem taking into account position of Taliban movement.”
Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan advocate such dialog pursuing their own interests which they do not hide. On September 22, presidents of these republics announced that they would take part in the regional projects for construction of electric lines and gas pipeline through Afghanistan and Pakistan to ports of the Indian Ocean.
Military experts note that if the Talibs secure stability in Afghanistan, such projects may come true. Hence, the entire geopolitical situation in Central Asia may change, because the major transport communications to the Indian Ocean will be primarily built outside of the CIS. It is interesting what will be the reaction of Russia, US, and other countries which do not recognize Taliban.