Young Afghan General Takes Fight Against Taliban To Social Media

As a series of Taliban victories show Afghan government forces in disarray, a young general is raising his reputation on the battlefield and on social media.

Northern provincial cities have fallen like dominoes this week, in some cases after government forces withdrew or surrendered without a fight, but in Lashkar Gah, a heartland of the Taliban, the army appears to be offering one more resistance. hard.

They are led by Sami Sadat, 36, the highest ranking army officer in southern Afghanistan, in an intense fight in defense of a provincial capital that the Taliban are desperate to seize.

And as insurgents flood social media with images of Afghan soldiers surrendering and taking selfies with locals, the young general is also using Twitter and Facebook as a slick public relations tool in the fight against hardline Islamists.

He and the 20,000 men under him in the 215th Maiwand Corps have garnered thousands of followers, their Twitter accounts awash with images of the general among the troops, posing for selfies with young civilians and meeting local merchants.

The Defense Ministry tweeted on Wednesday that he had been promoted to lead the country’s special forces, a widely applauded announcement on the platform.

Sadat remains optimistic despite the Taliban’s advances.

“Because I know we are going to win,” he told AFP in a telephone interview from the Lashkar Gah front.

“I know that this is our country, that the Taliban are failing, that they will fail sooner or later.”

‘Anything but naive’

But there is more to him than meets the eye, say his fellow officers and friends.

“It’s anything but naive,” said a security official who asked not to be named.

A graduate of the prestigious King’s College in London, Sadat began his military career at the Afghan Home Office.

He received military training in Germany, Britain, Poland and the United States, and also served in the National Security Directorate, Afghanistan’s spy agency.

“He has a very strategic vision and a very deep analysis of what is happening,” said a general who was Sadat’s colleague at the spy agency.

#AFG it’s great to get a surprise visit from my brother, Major General Haibat Alizai CG of ANASOC, Alizai is humble, fearless and a committed military leader. Thank you brother for your continued support of southern Afghanistan.

– Sami Sadat (@SayedSamiSadat) May 20, 2021

Sadat prefers to talk about his men rather than himself and his family (senior officers and their families are particular targets of the Taliban assault squads) and refuses even to say where he was born.

But he’s also interested in talking about the war, which he does confidently and ruthlessly.

“Any Taliban who come to Lashkar Gah will die or be disabled for life,” he told AFP.

Still, he admits that it will take time to fully secure the city.

‘Anything for his soldiers’

On August 4, Sadat asked residents to leave Lashkar Gah so that the military could launch an all-out counteroffensive.

But he has still held back, saying he is afraid of hurting those who chose to stay.

Sadat described how his forces went house to house to secure the neighborhoods the Taliban had infiltrated in Lashkar Gah.

“We still find civilians, especially the elderly and trapped women, whom we take to safer places,” he said.

NGOs and the United Nations have repeatedly expressed concern about the violence and risks facing civilians, threats including the aerial bombardment of suspected Taliban positions in Lashkar Gah by the Afghan army.

The loyalty and respect that Sadat appears to inspire among troops has been a key factor in resisting the Taliban in the city, despite insurgent advances that damaged morale elsewhere in Afghanistan.

“He is not someone who gives orders from behind while hiding in the Humvee,” said an Afghan security source.

“He will do anything for his soldiers.”

( Jowharwith AFP)

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