The militants' losses demonstrate their resilience rather than weakness. Kabul is trying to restart talks with the Taliban and assert ownership of the process. Whether the Taliban are prepared to enter talks in good faith remains in doubt, in part because the movement is fragmented and may lack a cohesive position from which to negotiate.
- The government's chances of winning over Taliban elements will fade if a leadership election reunifies most groups.
- The consolidation of Pakistan- and Saudi-linked factions could create a stronger military threat.
- President Ashraf Ghani's administration will be weakened by the defection of senior officials including Balkh's provincial governor.