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tv   Inside Story  LINKTV  August 5, 2021 5:30am-6:01am PDT

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♪ >> this is al jazeera and these are the top stories. memorials in lebanon turned into protests on the one-year anniversary marketing the port explosion. it killed more than 200 people. large groups of protesters clashed with security forces near the parliament building as they called for government accountability. our reporter was at the protests in beirut. >> people here are demanding a new leadership. they don't believe their political class is capable of governing this country any longer, a political class which has been in power for decades.
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they blame them for destroying the economy and for failing to parliament, dozens of protesters trying to storm parliament. they are angry. they believe that the mp's should convene and lift the immunities of a number of members of parliament who were former ministers and our suspects in the blast investigation. >> the taliban's warning of more attacks against afghan officials. an explosion shook kabul near a defense facility. it came hours after a taliban car bomb attack on the defense minister's home. he was unharmed but eight people were killed. temperatures of 40 degrees celsius are also fueling fires in greece. one blaze that tore through a forest on the outskirts of athens has now receded, leaving destroyed homes and businesses in its wake.
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the world health organization says countries should delay covid-19 vaccine boosters. the. appeal is directed at wealthier countries where vaccinations have outpaced the developing world. those are the headlines here at al jazeera. stay tuned for "inside story," and i will be back at the top with more headlines. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> afghanistan is inching towards kabul. the taliban says its latest attacks on government leaders marks the start of a new campaign. could this mean a return to full-scale war? this is "inside story."
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hello and welcome to the program. the taliban is gaining strength across afghanistan, quickly taking territory as foreign troops leave after 20 years of war. afghan forces are struggling to hold back fighters surrounding provincial capitals in the south and in the west and kabul is now looking vulnerable. gunman fired shots near the defense minister's home in the fortified green zone. the taliban's warning of more attacks on government leaders. united nations is urging all side protect civilians and says the intense fighting could trigger a new humanitarian crisis. more now from kabul. >> the taliban have claimed
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responsibility. it was carried out by the martyrdom grade, a dedicated unit under the arm of train suicide bombers. it deployed a car bomb outside his home and there were multiple gunman who tried to storm the residence. civilians were hurt and killed in this attack and in a statement that followed from the taliban, they say this is the beginning of retaliatory operations against key figures and leaders of the kabul administration so significant escalation for them and concerning for a residence in kabul that perhaps the -- residents in kabul that perhaps the taliban will do more like this, putting them in jeopardy. further south, there really is the epicenter of fighting between the afghan army and the taliban has been heavy for a number of days. today, locals say it is
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certainly that works with more bombardments from the air and streets to streetfighting as the afghan government tries to retake control of the city. they have asked to evacuate. incredibly dangerous for civilians, who are being told to leave their homes and go into an active worst -- war zone. the taliban pushes forward, gaining more territory and with significant nilla terry momentum. charlotte for inside story. >> afghanistan's president blames what he calls the u.s.'s sudden troop withdrawal for the skillet and violence. he said that washington's push for negotiations created doubt and ambiguity and insists the taliban is not committed to peace. >> the situation which we are facing is due to the sudden decision to withdraw. i told the american president that i respected his decision because it was his decision but i knew this would have some consequences and the crisis
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management will be put on afghans. >> let's start the discussion and bring in our guests. joining us on skype from kabul is a professor of peace studies at the american university of afghanistan. in pittsburgh, cloin clark. -- colin clark. we have the head of the international relations apartment at a university. welcome to the program. victoria, i would like to start with you. you are there right now in afghanistan. feeling it, living it. tell us what it is like. what are people thinking? where is this heading? >> while, many are quite concerned about the security situation. a lot of my colleagues now are trying to leave the country. it did not fall to the taliban.
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it has given them quite some hope. all in all, -- the fears that the population of urban centers is not going to let the taliban take it so easily. >> one of those urban centers, thousands are trapped and fleeing for their lives in the province. the taliban continue their advanced bodies in the streets and it is a troubling situation, isn't it? >> indeed, it is. 2000 400 people were only displaced yesterday and there are 40 civilian deaths or more than that. casualties. this is almost the seventh day that this was going on. it is not completely under hold
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of the taliban. they are trying to put up a resistance. i believe the battle is still continuing. >> in pittsburgh in the united states, what is your sense of direction of travel here question work is afghanistan heading over the precipice, heading for full-scale war? >> i really hope not. but the view from the states seems to be that. this is something that myself and a lot of other put folks in broader counterterrorism community have warned against when the president announced his withdrawal in april, with really no contingency plan for what comes next. they allow on the taliban to be a meaningful part of a peace agreement. i think it is naive, frankly. >> we will get onto the peace talks. let's look at areas of taliban control. the taliban has taken more territory in recent weeks senate
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has at any time since it all from power 20 years ago. in may, a controlled 20% of the country and that is shown here in purple but as u.s. and other foreign troops pulled out, taliban fighters wrapped up their attacks. in the last two months, half of the country has fallen under the groups rule. it is a critical test for the afghans government as they surround the capital, kabul. this week, the taliban moved into the center of the city and -- cities. given all of that, how do you assess the taliban tactics here, which seems to be pretty much avoiding full-scale confrontation and there is the slur assimilation of various targeting cities and local economies. >> this would be effective. [indiscernible] they are now seen by the local population as taking the
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populations of cities hostage in order to gain power. circling cities, working now. actually moving. it is something that could keep the balance of popular support in some areas. >> now we have this new strategy, the martyrdom brigade, attacking government leaders had victoria, what do you make of that? victoria: it makes sense of course to get rid of national security forces, a deafening blow to those forces. this is something that we have been expecting. one would expect, one would hope that the government has insured its officials.
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as we know, they presented the security plan without much of the details. today, we would hope that now, they have learned the lesson and provided security for their official. >> we heard from the president earlier, blaming the u.s. withdraw for the u.s. escalation here colin clark, do you think that withdrawal is a miscalculation by the u.s. president biden? >> i do. it's a miscalculation from the point of view of afghan stability. it is a shrewd calculation in terms of u.s. domestic politics. this is a popular move among large swaths of the u.s. population and it is one of the few areas i can think of where there is bipartisan support. the trump is in this ration was moving towards a withdrawal at sign president biden continue to that. those in opposition seem to be folks like myself and others in
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academia or thing takes and the policy world warning of catastrophic consequences in terms of al qaeda. >> in assessing the prospects for this withdraw, would they have anticipated what has happened, this sudden escalation in taliban dominance? >> they likely mapped out multiple scenarios, knowing that this was going to be one and probably had a strong chance of being one. the u.s. is banking on this being contained to afghanistan but i think that this instability is likely to spill over into other parts of the region. >> if it heads in the direction it appears to be heading, if it continues for years, is it something that will present a problem for the united dates, a situation -- states, a situation they may reconsider sending troops back in? >> it depends on what happens. if you look at some external
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operation or spectacular terrorist attack in the u.s., the pressure will be immense rate the u.s. and its allies to do more than they are doing now. if the problems remain contained within afghanistan, the conversation and the zeitgeist in the beltway these days, it's all about power competition. china and russia. after 20 years seeing few results, people want to leave the global war on terrorism behind. this is emblematic of that. >> if i am in kabul, how different is this scenario we are seeing here in 2021 into 1996 when the taliban -- afghanistan? >> the situation differs in so many perspectives. you have the taliban being the government. now you have a government in kabul and a taliban who is fighting the government.
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the similarities -- the open alliance as the armed opposition has little territory with themselves and the taliban were almost ruling 95% of afghanistan while now the government is controlling half of the country and almost more than 200 districts are with the taliban, who is armed opposition, and apparently, is names that the alabama has taken the decision of attacking the urban centers. the government is talking about consolidation and capabilities to -- but apparently, it seems that the taliban are still having the momentum. what has not changed for the people of afghanistan is that back in 2001, there was a battle
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and in 2021, there is still battle going on in the provinces and they are in a state of war. >> do you think the taliban has the potential to take over the whole country again? >> the thing is that the taliban -- largely because of this vacuum that was created in the last stages of the withdrawal. on the strategic retreat. this strategic retreat cannot be solely interpreted -- militarily. it is now a critical test for both sides. the government is putting up defenses or trying to hold them off. >> icu are keen to come in.
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-- i see you are keen to come in. >> the urban centers are really unlikely to be taken by the taliban. of course, -- let's hope they will continue. there is an anonymous support of popular uprisings in support of the afghan security forces. regular people are taking up arms. there are large rights of the country that are very unlikely to fall into taliban hands. the taliban have been quite like he up until now. they have taken advantage of a security forward but at the same time, some of those regions or districts that were captured are being contested.
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>> it wants to keep it flowing. that would prevent them from bidding for a complete takeover, wouldn't it? >> i don't think they would need a complete takeover of the country to exert their influence. we have seen it already. i don't think the taliban is ever going to break with groups like al qaeda and their ilk, especially of the violence continues. the taliban will meet al qaeda to reinforce its ranks. >> the taliban exerting their influence, what does that even mean? they say they had the best interest of afghanistan at heart that at the same time they believe that an islamic state structure would be the most beneficial for the country. what would it mean? >> in terms of constitutional
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views, it is limited from the taliban's perspective because they are not that expressive when it comes to the issue. and on now -- and now, they are talking about the islamic system. how would you interpret all the issues within the islamic system? they add to these things. there constitutional views are limited and really don't understand what exactly they mean by the islamic system. talking about the taliban, 1.0, a lot of things were limited such as freedom of speech, participation in public domain. the taliban has changed and now, if we are to face a taliban 2.0
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-- they are somehow tolerant and pluralistic and respect engagement with international community. then i think people would be at ease. if they remain the taliban from the 1990's, i think that would be worrisome and that would concern people because afghanistan's people have changed a lot since that time. emerging civil society. you have people who are educated. you have people who have gone and seen the world. things have changed. if the taliban are the taliban of the 1990's, they will also find it focal to subdue the young population of afghanistan. >> is that something you would agree with? the taliban are saying they are committed to the peace process
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and saying they will keep the civil rights that have developed in recent years. are you concerned about whether or not that this request >> absolutely. i am not really concerned. i know it is not true. have already perpetrated war crimes in the province. a student lost two of her cousins. they have colleagues in different parts of the country who have told us they have already closed schools down because they want to reestablish their own educational system. actions speak louder than words. as far as war crimes and closing down schools is concerned, they have not changed a bit. >> what about the peace talks? what are the implications of this latest escalation as far as the peace talks are concerned here in doha? >> i think that doha talks are done.
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we are well past the point of no return for thinking of negotiated settlement. we cannot take the taliban at their word. clearly, they are not operating in good faith. just as many predicted, including myself. largely looked at the negotiations as somewhat of a smoke show or veneer to allow the united states to extricate its forces under the top cover of some kind of political negotiation that it has never really been about that and clearly, it is not now. >> >> the total -- >> he says the doha talks are done. do you agree? >> i would say with respect that we still have talks. what i believe is that the taliban at the end of the day would return to the negotiations to reach a political settlement with the government. until then, i believe the taliban's recent strategies to maximize their power because this maximization would help
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strengthen their position at the table because there are some limitations on the taliban if they overtake kabul military. international recognition. international assistance for the governance and development of afghanistan. something the taliban know that they will not be able to do. the international community will definitely not be available if they take over the kabul military so their calculation at the moment must be that let's capitalize over what has been created, let's maximize our power and then go with a strengthened position to the negotiation table, particularly when the policies in afghanistan , where the environment changes. >> what do you think?
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is there room for further progress at the peace talks? >> well, let's remember that it is a stronger agreement of the united states with the taliban. the peace talks between the afghan government and the taliban have not really started. there definitely are some courts within the afghan states, the larger political scene for civic society, to engage in some sort of a dialogue and stop the violence. i think it needs to be capitalized down from all sides. >> what about regional players? and presumably, this taliban escalation is -- certainly not to have complete taliban control. what did they bring to bear on this equation? >> all the players in the region, the iranians, russians,
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chinese, indians, pakistanis, they all have their own desired outcome, priorities, and those do not align. you will see a lot of jostling for power. you will see attempts at patronage and proxy warfare. as this situation develops. and typically, from my study of insurgencies, the more entities involved, the longer something lasts so that is not a good sign. >> what is your gut feeling about where this is heading? >> heading into 2022, we will be looking at and afghanistan controlled by the taliban in large portions of the country. not entirely. at that time, we are likely to see the growth of transnational jihadist groups like al qaeda, like others. my main concern, my main fear is that afghanistan one -- once again turns into a magnet for foreign fighters and
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there is a mobilization which acts as a force multiplier for many of the most dangerous terrorist groups there. >> what is your sense of the impact of this on regional stability? and global stability? >> yes. from my eyes, this is the rat of 2012 -- iraq of 2012. there is definitely a vacuum that has been created. a lot of foreign fighters are starting to leave the country. there are so many different groups. not necessarily part of that agreement. you have been trying to legitimize themselves in the eyes of their neighbors, the chinese. they have made reparations with regards to neighboring countries. at the end of the day, we are not controlling all the terrorist in afghanistan and the frontier between those groups are very poor.
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from that perspective, it is -- [indiscernible] definitely not really being careful about the security vacuum that has been created at the moment, at this moment of heavy fighting. it's definitely going to destabilize the region and pakistan will be on the -- >> we have about just about 30 seconds left for you to answer this. what is it -- what is there for -- what card can he play to try and sort this out? >> i think the president still has cards. he has power the taliban does not have. he has the recent campaign which sees that people are coming in support of the government. the backing of the u.s. in terms of airstrikes. these are the options that the president has but it also depends on how he will be
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implementing these assets. how united it would stand against the taliban. >> we will have to leave it there. appreciate that. thanks, guys. thanks very much indeed and thank you for watching pit you can see this and all of our previous programs again at any time by visiting our website, and for further discussion, go to our facebook page. and you can also join the conversation on twitter. from me, nick clark, and the rest of the team here, it is goodbye for now.
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