Concerns over the recent retreats
In the past two and a half months, at least 11 districts have fallen to the Taliban. The government says it has deliberately moved out of a number of districts and this is part of the war strategy in the current situation. The Taliban, however, claims to have taken control of the districts through offensive attacks.
The Taliban’s takeover of 11 districts during the two-and-a-half-month war is bad news for the people. It matters not how the Taliban took control of these districts but what’s more concerning is the absolute absence of the government in these districts at the moment. For those who don’t have unpleasant memories of the Taliban’s harsh and repressive regime, the group’s domination of these districts is certainly sad news.
On the other hand, a district is not just an office building or several police stations; A district is a symbol of a state that has territory, nation/people and sovereignty. With the fall of each district, the sovereignty of the central government is damaged and its territory becomes more limited and a part of the nation is separated from it. In contrast, the Taliban achieve a major achievement by capturing each district; their radius of existence expands, they gain more financial resources, they gather more people, and as a result they gain the opportunity to exercise their political will and to take control of the fate of a section of the people. For the Taliban, who used to flee to the mountains and valleys, gaining control of part of the geography and people and exercising power is a great achievement. This is just as harmful and dangerous for the central government, which seeks stability and settlement.
If we look at the case of the fall from a numerical point of view, the fall of 11 districts in two and a half months is a big number. From a propaganda point of view, the Taliban’s dominance over this number of districts is very encouraging for this group. On the contrary, the spirit of the people loyal to the government is greatly shattered by the sight of these events; Even if the government does not acknowledge the fall of these districts and announces its withdrawal from those districts under the guise of its war tactics.
If the government intends to defend only the provincial capitals as well as the important districts, it must be strict and far-sighted in its policy of retreat. It is clear that some districts are not vital to the government; But leaving these districts must be part of a regular schedule. Tactical retreat must guarantee the government’s interest on the battlefield, as well as the government’s interest in politics and its place in public opinion. This must be done with a skill that the Taliban group cannot make the most of in its psychological and propaganda warfare. Unfortunately, the events of the last two and a half months have not been widely interpreted in favor of the government, and it is the Taliban group that has benefited the most from these events.
The Taliban have described each district as a “major victory”. The psychological effect of gaining control over these districts on the morale of the fighters of this group is to see themselves in the position of “victory” and “conquest”. For a rebel group, achieving such high spirit is a winning trophy; While this spirit is a serious threat to the government at war with it. Therefore, it is better for the government to make military decisions in the war against the Taliban in such a way that the negative consequences are very small and the Taliban cannot benefit from its propaganda.
The government must share its withdrawal plan with the people. The term “tactical retreat” is ambiguous to the people while it is a familiar term. People do not know exactly what the government will get in return for this retreat and what the ultimate benefit will be. people are really shocked when they look at eleven cases of setbacks in the last two and a half months. The people are afraid that there is a conspiracy behind this; Because the expectation is that the government should not retreat on such a large scale in its struggle for settlement and survival. Thus, while people are concerned about such a policy, they expect the government to explain to them, at least the events of the last two and a half months. People need such clarity in order to be able to better plan their tasks for the future.