Although America’s longest war is over, the Taliban isn’t fully victorious in its now-liberated country. There are several groups still holding out against the resurgent regime. After all, it is a civil war there.
Ahmad Massoud, 32, the well-spoken leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, is the son of the famed Soviet Afgha War-era mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was assassinated in 2001 while heading of the Northern Alliance. A graduate of Kings College and the University of London, the younger Massoud last week published an op-ed in the WaPo pleading for help.
I write from the Panjshir Valley today, ready to follow in my father’s footsteps, with mujahideen fighters who are prepared to once again take on the Taliban. We have stores of ammunition and arms that we have patiently collected since my father’s time, because we knew this day might come.
Of course, although he is asking for arms and support from the West, the likelihood of it coming overtly is slim to none.
However, it should be noted that Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which is is funded almost exclusively by the American government, is running short reports highlighting his struggle.
At the same time, Amrullah Saleh, one of the old republic’s vice presidents and former Intelligence chief, is still in the country and, along with former Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi (one of the elder Massoud’s better commanders in the Northern Alliance against the Soviets and a former Chief of Staff of the Afghan National Army), are in the Panjshir with Massoud The Younger, where they are trying to form a larger resistance movement in line with a government in exile concept.
At least some are coming to the call.
Massoud is being joined by “Hundreds of Tajiks from the southern town of Kulob” who “say they’re prepared to join anti-Taliban militias in Afghanistan. The Afghan fighters are based in the Panjshir Valley, a predominantly ethnic-Tajik region that has repelled Taliban incursions in the past.”
Other reports are not quite as glossy as the Taliban move in to put down the unruly valley, just 100 miles from Kabul.
Still, if Massoud and the gang can make it to the end of the fighting season, 2022 could be a big year for them.
Meanwhile, there is an Uzbek angle.
Another vice president and warlord-figure, the aging Abdul Rashid Dostum (who was marshal of the Afghan National Army and a senior officer of the Communist-era ANA) along with Atta Muhammad Nur, a well-known Tajik who served as a mujahideen resistance commander for the Jamiat-e Islami militia against the Soviets before joining the Northern Alliance back in the day, fled from their stronghold in Mazar-e-Sharif to Uzbekistan a couple of weeks ago, where they no doubt still have a myriad of contacts across the border. Whether or not they make inroads back into the country remains to be seen but, as they say, you can run the warlord out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the warlord.
The more things change…