The Afghan Civil War spilling over into Turkmenistan.
The Taliban reportedly chased approximately 100 members of the Afghan Border Forces into Turkmenistan following heated fighting in the province of Badghis that also saw the insurgents – which are officially recognized as terrorists by the UN and the Russian Federation in spite of the latter recently urging their delisting in order to facilitate peace talks – taking 150 government fighters prisoner in their largest-ever capture since the conflict began 18 years ago. This incident also marked the most profound overspill of the war into the constitutionally neutral former Soviet Republic after government forces claimed to have tried to flee there as part of a preplanned tactical retreat, but which appears to many to have been a spur-of-the-moment decision undertaken in anxious desperation to save their lives.
This latest development is notable for a few reasons. Firstly, the northwestern corner of Afghanistan isn’t known for such intense fighting, but the outcome of this latest battle proves just how incapable Kabul’s forces are of holding territory in even notionally friendly parts of the state if put under serious enough pressure. Secondly, this naturally leads to the observation that the Taliban is continuing to gain ground and consolidate their gains all across the country in parallel with foreign governments increasingly granting them tacit recognition as a legitimate movement, which is occurring against the backdrop of Kabul’s visibly decreasing writ. And thirdly, the Taliban’s military gains position it as the most effective force for countering Daesh’s plans to transplant their failed caliphate to Northern Afghanistan.
Altogether, this means that the Taliban is expanding its territory, replacing Kabul’s authority in areas traditionally under its control, and becoming the anti-terrorist security guarantor in the part of country that Daesh is currently trying to target. It also shouldn’t be forgotten that this is taking place in relative proximity to the strategic TAPI gas pipeline that’s in the process of construction, meaning that the Taliban’s latest military gains along the Turkmenistani border can be easily leveraged to improve its already rapidly rising profile as a serious political player in Afghanistan and a responsible security one in the anti-terrorist and energy domains. This will greatly contribute to the group’s efforts to isolate Kabul both within the country and beyond and accelerate its return to power.
By Andrew Korybko
Source: Oriental Review