New York [US], June 7 (ANI): A new assessment based on intelligence from member states of United Nations revealed that the Taliban is poised to use force to take what they do not get through negotiations after the US and coalition troops complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The report was issued on Thursday by the UN sanctions monitoring team for Afghanistan. It warned that while the Taliban are still in compliance with the terms of last year's agreement with the US, they have tightened their grip on power by exercising direct control over more than half of the country's district administrative centre, reported Voice of America (VOA).
"Taliban rhetoric and reports of active Taliban preparations for the spring fighting season indicate the group is likely to increase military operations for 2021, whether or not a spring offensive is announced," the report said.
The report indicated that Taliban commanders have also massed their forces around key cities and towns and stand ready to strike as part of a strategy to "shape future military operations when levels of departing foreign troops are no longer able to effectively respond".
There is also little evidence to suggest the Taliban have done much to sever ties with the al-Qaeda terror group, as required by the agreement with the US. In contrast, the relationship between the two terror groups have grown deeper "as a consequence of personal bonds of marriage and shared partnership in struggle, now cemented through second-generational ties", the intelligence said.
"Members of (al-Qaida) have been relocated to more remote areas by the Taliban to avoid potential exposure and targeting," the report found.
Though al-Qaeda has minimised overt complications with the Taliban leadership in an effort to "lay low", contact between the two groups has continued throughout the negotiations.
The UN team further warned that the al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent "is reported to be such an 'organic' or essential part of the insurgency that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to separate it from its Taliban allies", VOA reported.
However, the Taliban immediately rejected the UN findings. "Unfortunately, this report has been compiled on the basis of false information from enemy intelligence agencies," said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
"Such one-sided reports call into question the impartiality of the UN Security Council and undermine its international credibility," Mujahid added.
Meanwhile, US officials on Thursday acknowledged the report but stressed that the only way to achieve a "just and durable" peace in Afghanistan is through ongoing inter-Afghan negotiations.
"Our ultimate goal is an Afghanistan that finds an end to four decades of conflict. In that environment, terrorism is less likely to emerge," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
Other US officials, including Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, have argued that a key motivation for the Taliban has been a desire for international acceptance and that they understand they will sacrifice both acceptance and aid if they resort to violence, according to VOA.
US military planners recently said that the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan is 30 to 44 per cent complete. However, the fate of peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, scheduled to resume this week in Doha, is also uncertain.
The UN report highlighted how the Taliban is reported to be responsible for the great majority of targeted assassinations that have become a feature of the violence in Afghanistan.
The Taliban appear to have increased their grip on northern parts of Afghanistan, the UN report said, in particular, where they "exert more control over road networks in the north than at any other time since 2001", VOA reported.
Furthermore, the terror group has generated between USD 300 million to USD 1.6 billion in revenue annually, most of it through drug trafficking, opium production, kidnapping and extortion and exploiting the Afghan mining sector, the report confirmed. (ANI)