AA / Istanbul
The Taliban Movement’s control of the capital Kabul and most of the country’s provinces does not necessarily mean the end of the fighting, which has not stopped since 1979.
In fact, hotbeds of resistance still persist in the Panshir Mountains in the north of the country and the Daesh organization is established in the east, as well as sectarian and ethnic groups are hostile to the Taliban in more than one province. , in particular, in the west and north of the country.
1- The National Resistance Front
The Front is led by Ahmad Massoud, son of the Tajik leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud, one of the main leaders of the Afghan Resistance against the Soviets and who fought the Taliban during their first stint in power. Massoud had been killed two days before the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Ahmad Massoud is installed in the province of Panshir (north), known for its winding mountains, and which is populated by a Tajik majority (around 37%). The Taliban had failed to enter this region during the five years of their first spell in power, between 1996 and 2001.
Former Afghan vice president Amrullah Salah, who considers himself the legitimate president of the country after Ashraf Ghani resigned and fled to the United Arab Emirates, joined Ahmad Massoud’s camp.
Likewise, thousands of Afghan army soldiers joined the Massoud Coalition. The Afghan army collapsed after the withdrawal of US forces and the fall of Kabul to the Taliban.
The Panshir Valley could turn into a bastion of armed resistance to the power of the Taliban, like the “Northern Coalition” which brought together the Tajik and Uzbek ethnic groups (nearly 9% of the population in the northern provinces). ).
However, the Taliban seem to have benefited from their previous experience, by deciding to enter into negotiations with Massoud to gain access to the province of Panshir without fighting, at the same time as the Movement, which controls the capital Kabul, is mobilizing its forces on the outskirts. of the province to take it by storm, in case of failure of the negotiations.
It should be noted that the Taliban’s chances of overcoming the “National Resistance” militarily are not entirely guaranteed, as they had previously failed, like the Soviets, to invade and destroy themselves. ‘seize the Panshir valley.
In addition, other districts located in the provinces of Nangarhâr and Loghman, east of Kabul, are still outside the control of the Taliban, but do not represent hotbeds of resistance and could fall into the hands of the Taliban, during the next few days or weeks, unless they receive military support from abroad or from the “National Resistance”.
If the neighboring countries, in this case, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Pakistan and China as well as Russia, or even the Western countries, decide to support the “National Resistance”, the Taliban will not. would not then manage to stabilize and consolidate their power easily.
2- Daesh Khorasan
Daesh Khorasan’s organization poses the greatest existential threat to the Taliban Movement, since this bloodthirsty movement uses the same methods of combat and controls warfare in the mountains and difficult-to-reach terrain.
The ISIS organization is made up of dissident elements of the Taliban Movement in 2014, when news of the death of Mollah Omar, founder of the Movement, spread, while the Taliban leadership had withheld this information for about two years. , since his death in 2013.
According to several media, including the American channel CNN, the Daesh Khorasan organization has between 1,500 and 2,200 elements in its ranks, while other sources mentioned thousands of men, especially after the accession of Taliban fighters Pakistan to this organization, along with other members from Iraq and Syria.
The Taliban managed to defeat Daesh Khorasan in 2018 after four years of fighting. Paradoxically, it was the US Air Force that intervened to support the Taliban’s attacks on Daesh in the east of the country, a fact that was not accepted by the Taliban, seeing it as a hindrance. to their operations.
The Taliban engaged in their last fight in the province of Jowzjan at the northern borders of the country with Turkmenistan during the summer of 2018. The Movement announced at the time the elimination of 150 elements of Daesh and the kidnapping of 130 others. , while 150 elements preferred to surrender to government forces.
The spokesperson for the Taliban at the time, Zabiullah Mujahid, said that “the evil phenomenon of Daesh has been eradicated and people have freed themselves from the yoke of this organization in the Jowzjan region.
Nevertheless, Daesh still controls the district of Khoky in the province of Kounar (east), on the borders with Pakistan, in particular the district of Waziristan, stronghold of the Taliban Pakistan.
Likewise, Daesh has sleeper cells in Kabul, which was illustrated recently during the attack on the airport in the capital Kabul last week, killing dozens, including American soldiers.
3-The Shiite Hazara
Many observers remain skeptical of the Taliban’s treatment of the Shiites of Afghanistan, who are concentrated in the west of the country, particularly in the province of Herat, which is populated by the Hazara tribes (nearly 9% ) supported by Iran.
Herat fell into the hands of the Taliban without resistance and an expert at the Russian Council for International Relations, Kirill Simonov, mentions the participation of some Hazara units in the fighting to support the Taliban.
Although the Taliban have adopted a moderate discourse aimed at different ethnic groups, the fact remains that the Hazara Shiites apprehend the extremism of the Taliban, the majority of which are from the Sunni Pashtuns (between 40 and 50 %), who represent the largest ethnic group in the country.
In a recent report, Amnesty International accused the Taliban Movement of torture and murder of a number of members of the Hazara minority in Ghazni province (south-east) last July.
Despite this, the Afghan Shiites are striving to be part of the ruling power, even if the supreme authority rests with the Taliban, an orientation supported by Iran.
Indeed, Tehran had already called on the former Afghan government, in 2020, to integrate the Shiite militiamen into the regular army. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said at the time that the Hazara militia fighters are “the best elements that have a military background” and that can be used against the Daesh organization in Afghanistan.
Iran had for several years engaged thousands of Afghan Hazara as part of Shiite militias to fight in Syria. The main formations are the “Fatimid Regiment”, which has nearly 3,000 elements while the Iranians put the figure at 14,000.
If the Taliban failed to treat the Hazara “wisely” or engaged in a sectarian conflict with its western neighbor, Iran, it is highly likely that we would witness the transfer of the Fatimid regiment from Syria to Syria. Afghanistan to fight the Movement which currently controls the capital Kabul, either autonomously or by allying with other ethnic groups, in particular the Tajiks who have a Shiite minority.
Sources differ on the percentage of Shiites in Afghanistan, which is said to be between 10% and 22%, a large part of whom had taken refuge in Iran during the long years of war.
During the current stage, the Taliban are focusing their attention on eradicating the main stronghold of resistance in the Panshir valley, either through negotiations or through fighting, before turning to fight what remains of the organization. of Daesh Khorasan and its sleeper cells in Kabul.
As for the sectarian conflict with the Hazara, the Taliban will endeavor to contain it within a predetermined framework, at least during the first phase, during which the Movement consolidates its power and attempts to wrest international recognition as an authority. legitimacy of Afghanistan, especially from neighboring countries, including Iran.
* Translated from Arabic by Hatem Kattou
. . (HAS), ..