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Monday, 12 November, 2001, 09:53 GMT
The war on terror: A key turning point?
The Afghan opposition, the Northern Alliance, have captured the strategically important city of Mazar-e-Sharif, and several other towns in northern Afghanistan.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Taleban Defence Minister Obaidullah Akhund has admitted that Taleban forces have withdrawn from Mazar.
These are the first major victories in the American-led campaign and the first significant defeats for the Taleban.
Mazar-e-Sharif's capture opens a land corridor from Uzbekistan - which supports the United States - into central Afghanistan. It also cuts off Taleban forces in the north of the country.
Washington has said the capture of Mazar-e-Sharif will also make it easier to step up humanitarian aid to Afghans during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Is this an important turning point in the US-led campaign, or just a small step in a war that could last for years?
This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Mazar-e-Sharif is certainly a very valuable city to hold, what with its two airstrips and proximity to ally Uzbekistan. This will hopefully take some of the pressure off Pakistan and the Uzbeks to host American forces and increase the opportunities to provide humanitarian aid. Mazar-e-Sharif will also hopefully provide a positive example to other cities which are dissatisfied with Talean rule. It is not, however, likely to be indicative of how the rest of the campaign is going to go because Mazar was (comparatively) very difficult for Taleban troops to defend, and the city's inhabitants are probably the most sympathetic to the Northern Alliance. Kabul is a different situation, with mountainside defences that are deadly to ground forces and are difficult to effectively bomb. After Kunduz, I expect the Northern Alliance will either make an unsuccessful rush at Kabul or settle down for the winter.
This proves that the fighting ability of the Taleban forces has been vastly over-estimated. They are just men, badly equipped and poorly trained. Kabul will fall by the end of Ramadan, and the Taleban will be extinguished as they attempt retreat to the mountains.
The people of Kabul fled in such great numbers at the beginning of the bombardment not only because of the bombing itself, but because of the realization that the so-called Northern Alliance might once again take power. When the Alliance took over the city in the 90's, a wave of murder, rape and pillage followed. The U.S. and the U.K. may be responsible for replacing one group of violent, pathological misogynists with others who are just as bad or worse. However, we will look the other way, because they will be "our" violent, pathological misogynists.
I think the taking of Mazar-e-Sharif is more a big step for USA/ Uk and the Northern Alliance's confidence who until now have not really gained anything from this war and they will gain momentum from this and hopefully move a lot closer taking Kabul. This also gives the US access to a key area within Afghanistan. But I think this must stop for Ramadan or this could see more Muslims joining the Taleban and to some extent rightfully so.
Small but important step which will provide good base for future victories.
Neil Fellowes, Great Yarmouth, UK
This seems a small scale victory and it may be just a small step in a unwishful war that could last for years. In the past the Afghans have resisted Russian attacks and now these attacks may just be a repetition of a lengthier involvement and more mass killing.
We are praising the Northern Alliance's entrance into Mazar-e-Sharif? Sure, people in Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, and Kabul favour easing the restrictions of the Taleban regime. I say with some degree of confidence that these three cities will have a net-increase in human rights. However, this victory marks the end of the rights to life and human security in Taleban-controlled rural Afghanistan, from the resurgence of small militant groups, re-establishment of drug culture, and the possibility of Northern Alliance commanders committing more of the same atrocities of which human rights organizations accuse them.
Rezal Anthony Abdullah, Singapore
I agree with Dave from the UK. The Taleban are moving into the mountains. This is the place where they can fight 'their war.' If the USA want to subdue them then they will have to go in and get them, which is something easier said than done. There is a good chance you will get bitten if you try to catch a dog by the tail!
Charles Moore, Scotland
Question: Which country sends the most aid to developing nations and others who experience natural disaster? USA. Which country is blamed in part for the lack of peace between Israel and Palestine? USA. Which country has opened its doors to more immigrants for a better and more prosperous future? USA. I just want to know why WE are the recipient of "Death to America" chants and other such pointed attacks? Wouldn't it be surprising if we responded in kind to such hate!? If this is what we receive for our efforts, why should we continue to try?
The media still have not grasped it. The struggle against terrorism is not going to be defined by instant gratification generation reporters or cynical pundits or the blame America first crowd. It's going to be defined by the 88 per cent of Americans who have brought to this conflict unmatched unity, patient resolution and unbounding faith in our armed forces and political leaders. That is the real turning point, not the capture of a city.
The capture of Mazar-e-Sharif is certainly a good step in the right direction but its importance shouldn't be exaggerated. You can't win in Afghanistan with only the support of minority groups. The US should make more efforts to get the majority of afghan people, who are Pashtun, on its side. In fact Afghanistan is always been ruled by the Pashtuns
As Muslim I am very happy to see that Mazer-e-Sharif has fallen to hands of Northern Alliance. There are many other battles ahead (i.e. Kabul & Kandahar) but I am sure that the Northern Alliance will be able to recapture those cities too. Afghanistan belongs to Afghan people and Taleban is truly the opposite of Islam.
Yes, this is a pivotal moment. The Northern Alliance and the USA have co-operated magnificently to eliminate the Taleban, Pakistani and Arab terrorists presence in Mazar-e-Sharif. Now we can move on to the next phase and remove the evildoers from Kabul.
S. James, UK
This is not a great step. In fact, if they captured Mazar-e-sharif then this is also not a problem for Taleban as they can easily get it back.
If we want real peace in Afghanistan then we should not support the Northern Alliance because only 2 or 3% of Afghans are in their favor. Even if anti-Taleban forces captured the whole of Afghanistan, the Taleban moment can't be stopped.
Without a doubt, this is just a first step. Although it is a very important one, we have to continue until Afghanistan is no longer a haven for terrorists. We have no choice. This is not a war that we can turn our back on.
This new development is nothing significant in the war on terror, this city has changed hands many times. The real breakthrough will come in Kabul even then the Taleban will retreat to the mountains and launch a guerrilla war, so if you are looking for peace you have chosen the wrong route. This war will continue for many a year.
The real battle and turning point in the war of Afghanistan is over what will replace the Taleban.
The fall of Mazar-e-Sharif is a big step of Northern Alliance towards Kabul (which is their main objective). This city has a very important air base, which can be used by US air forces. The fall of Mazar is a big blow to Taleban. There will be an affect on their military activities. It seems that Northern Alliance will advance further in the shadow of US war planes.
What I have noticed is that US armed troops have done nothing to fight with the Taleban face to face. They haven't also been able to find the correct location of Osama bin Laden's Head Quarter. It seems that US aim is only to destroy the Taleban, which is not the real aim. The US is using the same plan which is "to divide and rule". At first, they tried to find some moderators in the Taleban but failed to do so. Now, they have used Northern Alliance as a weapon to destroy the Taleban..and I think it is working!
The capture of Mazar-e-Sharif by forces of the Northern Alliance is an important step in the destruction of the Taleban regime, but it may have little impact on the larger battle against international terrorism. The Taleban is an important part of the terrorism support network, but only a part.
The capture of Mazar-e-Sharif is a small step in the beginning of a chain of events in which Osama Bin Laden and his forces are going to be defeated. It is basically good news for the world. But, it is only one step while we see more to come. How long will this last? As long as it takes to destroy Bin Laden and his evil forces. But, it will happen.
Phil T, Oman
The capture and control of Mazar-e-Sharif is most certainly a positive step towards winning this fight but the hundreds and thousands of people world wide that are hurting from these terrorist activities will not be happy until Bin Laden and his Taleban henchmen are seen swinging from ropes around their necks.
"This is not the end! But it is, perhaps, the beginning of the end". Patience people.
The fall of Mazar-e-Sharif is not so much a 'turning-point' as evidence that the Taleban cannot really fight off an attack on the scale they are facing. We have heard so much nonsense about how 'tough' the Taleban are, but they are just men at the end of the day. If anything, this should prove their vulnerability once on for all to those strange commentators who have written in awed tones of the Taleban as if they were made of kryptonite.
Jack, Baltimore, MD, USA
Although it has been reported that the Northern Alliance has captured
Mazar-e-sharif, the Taleban are regrouping on the outskirts of the City.
This city over the years have been lost and won by the Taleban many times and while, presently, the anti-Taleban forces are supported by the US air force, I still believe that it will be sometime before one can safely say whether the city has really been lost by the Taleban.
The war, and with it the misery to the Afghan people, will continue for a long time to come and with it political instability in many countries of the world.
This is a real sign of progress, and perhaps with the great increase in humanitarian aid that will ensue, the Afghan people and the Muslim world will really see that the west is not targeting them, but the fanatics.
The war against terrorism will last until "the hell no we won't go" lads outvote the "burn the witches" mob.
Will McElgin, USA
This apparent victory in the war against terrorism is, indeed, a significant step towards ousting the Muslim Nazi's from power in Afghanistan. Importantly, this victory will enable humanitarian supplies to reach many suffering Afghans in the northern regions of that country. I am very proud that humanitarian assistance is an important facet of the U.S.-led coalition....and a marked difference between the terrorists concept of imposing terror, starvation and their own brand of ethnic cleansing upon groups that do not view the world as they do. All in all, a wonderful piece of good news for all freedom-loving people who know that the stakes are very high in this war against evil.
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