1995: A Changed Situation
The dramatic events early in the year drastically altered the struggle forcontrol of what was left of central authority. For the first time the IslamicRepublican government secured the capital and found some breathing room to beginthe enormous tasks of restoring order, basic public services and crediblecentral authority. Beyond these lay the daunting challenges of uniting andrebuilding the Afghan nation as a whole.
Hekmatyar's fall did not diminish conflict. Branding the Rabbani governmentas corrupt and venal as the rest of the Mujahidin leaders, the Taliban claimedthe exclusive right to rule. After two weeks of negotiations, government forcesdrove the Taliban and the Hezb-i-Wahdat out of Kabul's southern suburbs. Withina week, the Taliban were forced back into Logar and Wardak provinces and thecapital was freed from rocketing. The offensive it had launched against IsmaelKhan's positions in southern and western Afghanistan were repulsed in April andMay. Yet, by early summer the Taliban had stabilized their positions on allfronts. After three months of fighting the government had failed to dislodge itfrom Maidan Shahr, twenty-five kilometers south of Kabul. In addition to itscore region centering on Kandahar, the Taliban continued to control parts ofWardak, Logar, Helmand, Farah, Nimroz, and Uruzghar provinces. By mid-June ashort ceasefire with the prospect of negotiations was agreed on.
Its spectacular emergence notwithstanding, the Taliban leadership confrontsan anomalous situation. In negotiating with the Rabbani government, it runs therisk of losing its aura of deliverance and being perceived instead as anotherregional warlord power. How that might affect its popular support or the elan ofits soldiers is not yet clear. It has dramatically changed the Afghan politicalequation, but its emergence as a major contender has made a political solutionleading to peace more problematic.
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