'The Taliban are broke' says Lieutenant General Douglas Lute
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The Taliban will need to readapt into leading a national government after over 20 years focussed on insurgent war against the US and its western allies. The militants have claimed to have taken a more moderate turn, with the US and UK Government signalling they are ready to cooperate as long as the Taliban abide by their pledge of non-violent rule. Former deputy national security advisor for Afghanistan Douglas Lute suggested the insurgents may seek not to fall out of line to ensure they have the necessary support to lead Afghanistan once Western troops have completely withdrawn.
Speaking to the BBC, Lt Gen Lute said: “The Taliban have said many of the right things but we simply don’t know if they mean it or if they’re saying it because they want us to hear what they’re saying.
“I think the next chapter in Afghanistan hasn’t been written yet. We won’t know for several months.
“What we do know is that the Taliban are in transition and I think they’re finding that the transition from insurgency and breaking things will be light work compared to the work ahead of them as they govern.
“It’s two very different sets of expertise and skills. They have not governed for now 20 years and they’re taking over a state in a very desperate situation.”
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Lt Gen Lute warned the Taliban will have to grapple with a combination of political and economic challenges as they seek to establish a new functioning government in Kabul.
He continued: “Not only the security situation, the fight against the Islamic State but also there’s been a sustained drought in Afghanistan which places insecure food supplied at the top of the agenda.
“Covid is in the third or fourth wave across the largely unvaccinated population.
“And then, finally, the Taliban are broke. The Federal Reserve, their national reserves have been frozen. There’s no money in the bank and if they wish people to go back to the healthcare section, the education sector, the security sector, and so forth, they’re going to rely on international assistance.”
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Thousands of Afghans have fled the country since the Taliban returned to Kabul on August 15, with more expected to seek a way out of the country in the coming months and years.
The UK has pledged to take in an additional 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan in addition to the estimated 13,708 people already evacuated earlier this month.
The resurgence of the Taliban sparked severe concerns across the country, with older generations fearing a return to the oppressive regime experienced when the militants were first in power between 1996 and 2001.
The terror group ISIS-K has also fuelled fears of a potential conflict with the Taliban due to the historic feud between the two groups.
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On Thursday, the Islamic State’s Afghan branch claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack near the Baron Hotel, where British and US officials had been processing visa requests.
An estimated 170 civilians died in the attack, with 13 US marines also losing their lives.
Washington on Saturday confirmed its forces had attacked an Islamic State “planner” in Afghanistan in retaliation for the deadly bombing outside Kabul airport.
US Central Command said on Friday the overnight drone strike took place in Nangarhar province, east of Kabul and bordering Pakistan.
“Initial indications are that we killed the target. We know of no civilian casualties,” a US military statement said.
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