Fighters defend last area not controlled by Taliban, with little chance of success – 25/08/2021 – World

The first signs of armed resistance to the Taliban come from a narrow valley that has a history of resistance to invaders.

Just days after the Taliban invaded the capital and overthrew the government in a lightning attack, former Mujahedin fighters and Afghan commandos announced that they had regrouped and started a war of resistance in the last zone of Afghanistan not yet controlled by the Islamic fundamentalist group.

The man in charge is Ahmad Massoud, 32, son of the famous and legendary Mujahedin commander Ahmad Shah Massoud. Son Massoud follows in his father’s footsteps 20 years after his father’s death, resuming his bitter struggle against the Taliban.

However, their struggle faces enormous difficulties. However strategic their stronghold, the fighters of this resistance are isolated and surrounded by the Taliban. Their stocks of food and others will soon run out and they have no visible outside support.

For now, the resistance has only two strengths: the Panjshir valley, 110 km north of Kabul, which has a long tradition of repelling invaders, and the legendary name of Massoud.

Spokesmen for Ahmad Massoud insist he has already drawn thousands of troops to the valley, including remnants of the Afghan army special operations forces and some of the veteran guerrilla commanders who have fought with his father, as well as activists and others who reject the Islamic Emirate of the Taliban. .

Spokesmen, some with Ahmad Massoud in the Panjshir Valley and others outside the country, rallying their support, said Massoud had stocks of weapons and war material, including including American helicopters, but needed more.

“We are waiting for an opportunity, a support,” said Hamid Saifi, former colonel of the Afghan national army and now commander of the resistance led by Massoud. He was contacted by phone on Sunday in the Panjshir Valley. “Maybe some countries are ready to face this great job. For now, all the countries we have spoken with are silent. America, Europe, China, Russia, everyone is silent.

Massoud senior gained his exceptional reputation for resisting repeated Soviet offensives in the 1980s, surviving thanks to his intelligence and the high mountains of the Hindu Kush range. He launched devastating ambushes against Russian supply convoys, gaining the reluctant respect of several Soviet generals among his opponents.

Massoud led the mujahedin attack on Kabul that overthrew the Communist government in 1992, after being appointed Minister of Defense. However, it never received the full support of Washington or neighboring Pakistan. He smeared his hands with blood during the devastating civil war in Kabul, and when the Taliban came to power and seized the capital in 1996, he retreated to their stronghold in the Panjshir Valley.

While constantly losing ground, Massoud resisted the Taliban regime for five years, mobilizing a united opposition against a movement he saw as totalitarian and foreign to Afghan traditions because of its dogmatic fundamentalism.

He alerted the West to the danger of Al Qaeda terrorism. Under his leadership, the Panjshir Valley became a sort of listening outpost for Western intelligence, a freehold of the Tajik minority ethnic group in a country dominated by the Pashtun Taliban regime, and a constant thorn in the Taliban heel.

It is clear that Ahmed Massoud aspires to play the same role as his father, who died assassinated by al-Qaida two days before September 11, 2001, as a sort of gift to the Taliban regime which housed al-Qaida.

But there are important differences between the situation then and today. The father had supply lines that crossed the border with Tajikistan, allowing the resistance to be supplied for a long time.

Since then, the Taliban have learned well from past military conflicts and made it their business to cut off access to Afghanistan’s borders and isolate the Panjshir Valley before heading for Kabul.

Another factor is that Massoud Filho has little military experience, although he studied at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, UK, and King’s College London, and graduated with a degree in military studies. war before returning to Afghanistan in 2016. He spoke last defiantly. weekend.

“We are facing the Soviet Union and we will be able to face the Taliban,” Massoud told Dubai-based Al Arabiya TV channel on Sunday (22). His father withstood nine Soviet offensives and Ahmad Massoud insists he can honor that legacy.

He rushed to the Panjshir Valley in a military helicopter on August 15, after the Taliban overran government defenses on Kabul’s western flank and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

At the same time, Vice President Amrullah Saleh left for the Panjshir Valley, vowing to fight and not sit under the same roof as the Taliban. He was attacked twice en route, but managed to get there, Mohammad Zahir Aghbar, who served as Afghanistan’s ambassador to Tajikistan, said in an interview last week.

It is possible that Massoud and his supporters have taken a firm stand to gain influence in the negotiations that will take place when any new government is formed.

“We prefer peace,” Massoud’s chief of staff Fahim Dashty said in a telephone message. “We are ready to participate in negotiations to achieve peace, but not only peace. We want an inclusive government in Afghanistan, a government that represents all the different ethnic groups in the country, that guarantees the rights of the Afghan people, the human rights, the rights of women and that guarantees social justice in Afghanistan.

But the conflict was already underway. Massoud’s supporters said their forces attacked a Taliban convoy in Andarab, on the north side of the Salang tunnel, causing heavy losses, destroying a bridge and cutting a critical highway connecting the capital to the north of the country.

Former senior officials in the recently ousted Afghan government are reluctant to talk about the movement’s chances of success. “I don’t think the resistance will last long without international aid,” commented a former official. “I think the Taliban will crush it in the coming months,” he said, speaking anonymously.

Matin Bek, a former member of the government’s negotiating team with the Taliban, suggested that some opponents would wait to see how the Taliban rule, but that resistance may mobilize the opposition. “If he fights the Taliban, he can become a hope for the whole nation,” he said.

For now, however, “we don’t know what the fate of this resistance will be,” Bek said. “Are you going to resist or are you going to negotiate?” I don’t know who is supporting her.

The most prominent former head of government to have taken refuge in the Panjshir valley is Saleh, former head of the National Security Directorate and former collaborator of Massoud senior. Last week he proclaimed himself the rightful president of Afghanistan, rejecting the Taliban takeover.

“The Taliban show no willingness to launch real negotiations,” Saleh wrote in a text message. “You want loyalty, surrender or subordination. What we offer is very simple. People must have a say in any decision that determines the character of the state. “

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