The UN envoy in Afghanistan Deborah Lyons in a briefing to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday said the recent “intensive military campaign” by the Taliban will lead to continued violence in the country, and she reiterated that any attempt to install a government in Kabul by force will go against everyone’s interest.
Lyons said the Taliban’s intensive military campaign “will lead to increased and prolonged violence that would extend the suffering of the Afghan people and threaten to destroy much of what has been built and hard won in the last two decades.”
She said that the Taliban’s recent advances are even more significant and are as a result of an intensified military campaign. More than 50 of Afghanistan’s 370 districts have fallen since the beginning of May.
Most districts that have been taken surround provincial capitals, suggesting that the Taliban are positioning themselves to try and take these capitals once foreign forces are fully withdrawn.
“This military campaign runs directly counter to recent statements by the head of the Taliban Political Commission that, and I quote, ‘We are committed to forging ahead with the other sides in an atmosphere of mutual respect and reach an agreement,’” she said.
For the Taliban to continue this intensive military campaign would be a tragic course of action, Lyons said.
“It should be emphatically clear that any efforts to install a militarily imposed government in Kabul would go against the will of the Afghan people, and against the stated positions of the regional countries and the broader international community,” she hinted.
This comes as sources said Tuesday that 13 districts have fallen to the Taliban in the last 24 hours while the government retook control of three districts in the same period.
The UN envoy said that they hoped to accelerate the stalled negotiations in Doha through a proposed conference in Turkey in April but the Taliban “never officially responded to the invitation.”
She said that given the enormous suffering, UNAMA stresses the importance of putting victims and their needs at the forefront of the peace negotiations.
“This must include specific protections for minorities. The ongoing, frequent attacks against the Hazara community in Kabul are a terrible reminder of how the overall conflict is being used to target certain groups,” she added.
She hinted that there is still time to prevent the worse-case scenario from materializing.
“We must accept the reality -- increased conflict in Afghanistan means increased insecurity for many other countries, near and far,” she added. “Regional countries have an important role to play in helping Afghanistan to stabilize and integrate more fully into the region.”