Renewed northern alliance could help to keep the Taliban at bay

Renewed northern alliance could help to keep the Taliban at bay

A developing alliance in the north could be the answer to Afghanistan’s Taliban strife, security experts have told The National.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani visited the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif in Balkh province on Wednesday to meet leaders from the country’s northern provinces, many of which have been captured by the Taliban.

The gathering was intended to strengthen alliances in the north, under the aegis of the Afghan government, sources told The National.

In the past week, the Taliban made significant advances in five provincial capitals in the north – Faryab, Jawzjan, Sar-e-Pul, Badakhshan and Samangan.

The recent wave of violence has forced the various political factions to unite and welcome Mr Ghani.

Hosted by Mohammad Noor, a former governor of Balkh who continues to wield significant influence there, the meeting was attended by many powerbrokers and strongmen from the northern provinces.

They included Mr Noor’s former mujahideen rivals, Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former vice president, and Mohammad Mohaqiq, a former former deputy chief executive.

“This meeting is an attempt to build a consensus among the leaders of the north,” an Afghan official said.

“The government wants to bring them together under one structure, under the rule of law, of course.

“Many people at that table have never gotten along with each other. But now they are trying to realise there is a common enemy.”

Read full report on The National