Afghan probe finds lead­er­ship fail­ure be­hind fall of Kun­duz

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

KABUL: Weak lead­er­ship, mis­use of re­sources and lack of co­or­di­na­tion be­tween Afghan se­cu­rity ser­vices were the main rea­sons a strate­gic north­ern city briefly fell to the Tale­ban, the head of an in­ves­tiga­tive team said yes­ter­day.

With­out US air sup­port, gov­ern­ment forces would have been un­able to take back the city of Kun­duz, said Am­rul­lah Saleh, head of the in­ves­ti­gat­ing team and a for­mer in­tel­li­gence agency chief. Tale­ban gun­men over­ran Kun­duz, cap­i­tal of the prov­ince of the same name, on Sept. 28. They held the city for three days be­fore a gov­ern­ment counter-of­fen­sive was launched. It took two weeks for troops to bring the city back un­der gov­ern­ment con­trol. Saleh’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Kun­duz is the first to release re­sults to the pub­lic, in the form of a 30 page sum­mary. The in­ves­ti­ga­tors were ap­pointed by Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani, and sub­mit­ted their full 200-page re­port a month ago.

The re­port says that army, po­lice and in­tel­li­gence agency sol­diers left their posts as the Tal­iban ad­vanced on the city. The large-scale de­ser­tion en­abled the in­sur­gents to en­ter the city al­most un­op­posed.

The gov­ern­ment held Kun­duz air­port and the adjacent mil­i­tary bar­racks, where many of the de­sert­ers, as well as city of­fi­cials, fled for safety. Kun­duz is a strate­gic city on the north­ern Afghan plain. It sits on a na­tional cross­roads that con­nects to ev­ery border, in­clud­ing Ta­jik­istan to the north. It is a ma­jor wheat-pro­duc­ing re­gion, as well as a nexus for smug­gling routes for drugs, weapons and al­co­hol, of­fi­cials have said. Tale­ban-led in­sur­gents had been mass­ing around Kun­duz for the past year, and had tried on at least three ear­lier oc­ca­sions to take the city of 300,000. Of­fi­cials have said the Tale­ban ab­sorbed other in­sur­gents groups for the Kun­duz as­sault, no­tably mem­bers of the Is­lamic Move­ment of Uzbek­istan.

At a press con­fer­ence, Saleh pointed to the “in­flu­ence of a num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als” work­ing against gov­ern­ment in­ter­ests in the city, in­clud­ing wealthy busi­ness­men, lo­cal war­lords and se­nior of­fi­cials “in whose in­ter­ests it was to en­sure the gov­ern­ment re­mained weak.” He re­ferred to th­ese groups as “grey net­works.” “The col­lapse of Kun­duz city was not due sim­ply to a Tale­ban as­sault, it had been in the plan­ning stages for over a year,” he said. — AP

KUN­DUZ: A Tale­ban fighter sits on his mo­tor­cy­cle adorned with a Tale­ban flag in a street in Kun­duz, Afghanistan. — AP

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