Regrouping the military ‘a top priority’, Afghan president says

Ashraf Ghani’s pre-recorded statement said ‘serious steps’ are being taken to remobilise Afghanistan’s beleaguered security forces.

President Ashraf Ghani said extensive consultations have been held within the government and with international partners [File: Mohammad Ismail/Reuters]

Kabul, Afghanistan – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has addressed the Afghan people after keeping largely silent on the Taliban taking more than 18 of the nation’s 34 provinces in eight days.

Reading from a teleprompter, Ghani’s pre-recorded statement said remobilising the Afghan National Security Forces was a “top priority” and he would find ways to help the thousands of people displaced by fighting across the country.

“We have held extensive consultations with everyone within the government and international partners … Consultations are ongoing and the results will be shared soon,” the president said on Saturday.

Until Saturday’s short address, Ghani and his government had been largely silent as more and more of the nation’s provinces, including Kandahar and Herat – the nation’s second and third-largest cities, respectively – fell to the Taliban.

Addressing the Afghan public, Ghani said: “I understand that you are worried about your future, I assure you as your president that I will concentrate on preventing expansion of instability, violence and displacement of my people.”

Over the last week as the armed group stormed through provinces in the south, north and west of the country, the government, including Ghani, was largely silent on the Taliban’s advances.

Ghani’s announcement comes on the same day that 3,000 United States forces arrived in the capital, Kabul, to secure Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Haroun Rahimi, assistant professor of law at the American University of Afghanistan, said it was unlikely Ghani could keep his promises.

“He’s not in control anymore, and it’s not about President Ghani anymore. It’s about making the transition as bloodlessly, orderly and as swiftly as possible. The fight is at the doors of Kabul. The reporting shows Kabul is being encircled. Time is not on the government’s side,” Rahimi told Al Jazeera.

Regrouping forces

Reports have said Afghan soldiers have not put up a fight as the Taliban entered some cities and towns, and some even joined the armed group. Thousands of police officers, meanwhile, have abandoned their posts in recent months, but the government said they are returning and will be retrained, then redeployed.

They also say 5,000 people have signed up for the police force in the last three weeks with another 2,000 graduating at the end of the week.

Fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban has escalated dramatically since May when the US-led military coalition began the final withdrawal of its forces – set to be completed by the end of August.

While the Taliban pledged not to attack foreign forces as they withdraw, it did not agree to a ceasefire with the Afghan government. Peace talks between the government and the Taliban in Doha have produced few results as the armed group made rapid gains on the ground.

Source: Al Jazeera