KABUL: Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government on Monday announced it is to form new armed forces for the country including soldiers from the previous regime’s military.
The former Afghan military and Western-backed government collapsed on Aug. 15 when President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan as the Taliban took control in a lightning offensive while the US and its allies were withdrawing troops after 20 years on the ground.
In September, the Taliban appointed an interim government in Afghanistan, declaring the country an Islamic emirate.
Defense Minister Mullah Mohammed Yaqoob, the son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar, announced the formation of new armed forces on Sunday, in an audio message released by the defense ministry.
He said the ministry intended
to create a national and independent army, with ground and airspace capabilities to “defend the country with high values,” and would try to equip it with modern weapons.
Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told Arab News: “Army is a priority and urgent need of the country. The Islamic emirate would work on forming an empowered army that would be responsible for protecting Afghans and would have the ability to defend the peace of Afghanistan at any cost.”
He said that the new army would be comprised of Taliban fighters and soldiers of the former regime.
“This army would be formed from new forces and also those forces who served the Afghanistan National Army. We would work together to form a powerful army from both forces that are serving and have served Afghanistan,” Mujahid added.
However, there was no comment on whether the formation of the new armed forces would be supported by other countries.
Kabul-based economist, Hamayoon Frotan, said: “Forming a new army needs money and human resources, as billions of dollars in Afghanistan’s central bank assets held abroad have been frozen following the Taliban takeover.
“I believe that the Taliban have human resources, also part of the equipment that the army needs the Taliban have got from the Americans.”
He pointed out that support might come from China and Russia, as Russia’s state-owned news agency TASS last week quoted President Vladimir Putin as saying the removal of the Taliban movement — outlawed in Russia — from the list of terrorist organizations was possible.
But during a plenary meeting of the international Valdai Discussion Club on Thursday, Putin said such a move would have to take place at the UN level.