Northern Alliance 2.O or not. Against this hope stands the fact that most warlords have already left Afghanistan, the Taliban have consciously and preventively conquered parts of the North and not just South, Central Afghanistan and Kabul. Nevertheless, the son of the former Northern Alliance leader Massud , who was murdered by Al Qaeda a day before 911, and others are now trying to found a liberated zone in Pandjir and establish it as a retreat. So they try to promote and push a Northern Alliance 2.0.
The US-Afghan writer and historian Tamim Ansary, who lives in San Francisco and is known for his book „The Unknown Center of the World: Global History from an Islamic Perspective“, believes that with the Taliban takeover the Afghanistan cause is „not over“ and outlines the potentials of a possible resistance and of regaining of power:
“When I read what the world press writes about Afghanistan, it sounds as if the story is over, as if the Taliban had won. All that remains is the blame: Who was responsible for America’s defeat? However, when I look at the information that comes from Afghanistan itself, I ask myself: is the story really over? When the Taliban invaded Kabul, their spokesman told a CNN reporter that they had changed, the Taliban were now supporting schooling for girls, they wanted an inclusive government, and so on. Many of my friends and most of the international media responded with an outcry: that the man was lying, that the world couldn’t believe a word he said. And of course they are right: the Taliban did nothing to win the trust of people outside their own group. As I listened to the interview, I wondered why the man was even saying these things. According to the international media, he was trying to get the world to see the Taliban in a positive light. But honestly, I think the Taliban don’t care what the world says about them. These statements were not addressed to the world public, but to forces and groups within Afghanistan. I think the Taliban know the story doesn’t end there. A few thousand of them are trying to rule a country of 39 million people. From headquarters in a city of five to ten million people, most of whom hate the Taliban and Talibanism. How long will they be able to stay in Kabul?
Massoud has his father’s charisma
In Pandjir, a valley north of Kabul, credible resistance is now forming. One of its leaders is the son of the legendary Ahmad Shah Massoud. Massoud was the Afghan-Muslim guerrilla commander who fought the Soviets and probably contributed more than anyone to the overthrow of the Soviet empire. He was murdered by al-Qaeda two days before September 11th. His son Ahmad seems to me to be the right person today, he has inherited his father’s eloquence and charisma. It remains to be seen whether he also has his father’s military genius.
And then there is Hamid Karzai. Nobody knows which way to go. In the years he was president of Afghanistan, he knew that one day the Taliban would be back in the capital. He spent this time building a power base along the lines of the Afghan model, a patronage network that is deeply rooted in society. Karzai is still in Kabul, although he has not held an official position for years.
Amrullah Saleh is also still there, the country’s vice president before the fall of Kabul. He has announced that after Ashraf Ghani had fled, he was now the President of Afghanistan. Members of the old Northern Alliance are now also coming to Panjir to join a national united front. For many months the young Massoud has made „Afghanistan belongs to the Afghans“ the central theme of his speeches. As the son of the „Lion of Pandjir“, as his father was called, he has impeccable Islamic credentials without which no one can rule in Afghanistan. Massoud and his allies not only act under the banner of Islam – they do it under that of Afghan Islam.
As someone who grew up in Kabul and studied in London, Massoud also has the global experience necessary to lead the generation of educated Afghans who grew up in Kabul after September 11, 2001. Those millions of young people who today live around the Taliban entrenched in the middle of their capital.
Don’t write off the army
Massoud and others have indicated that parts of the national army are coming to Punjir to offer their services as well. Some may ask: What are members of the national army good for? Weren’t it the soldiers who didn’t fight back when the Taliban captured cities across the country in early August? But wait: all we know about this army is that it did not fight for the government in Kabul. For a government that she saw as a proxy for the Americans in particular and the West in general. But will they fight if they see themselves as Afghans? As Afghans who fight for their country against a horde of outsiders whose agenda has nothing to do with the well-being of their compatriots? We don’t know, but we shouldn’t rush to rule out this possibility.
Like most Afghans, I am terrified of the prospect of a new civil war. However, part of me has fantasies of a day – in a month, in two months, maybe in three – when the whole Taliban chimera will collapse and a real government of Afghanistan will be formed. A government that represents the country, both urban and rural, that is both modern and tribal. A finally united Afghanistan capable of reconnecting with the great advances made by the Soviet invasion and 40 years of cruel war. „
Nevertheless, such assessments of the opposition in exile should always be treated with caution when one thinks of the triumphant propaganda for success of the Iraqi opposition living in the USA before the Iraq war in 2003 or the Iranian opposition or the Chinese opposition, all of which turned out to be false. If you trusted the informations of the Iranian or Chinese opposition or the Falungong, the Mullahs and the CCP wouldn´t exist anymore since decades. Too many stories about a coming collapse of these regimes were spread. And if the Afghan army would fight better in the future than during ist collapse is also qustionable.
The question will be whether the Taliban will then start a major offensive to elominate the seeds of such a potential Northern Alliance 2.0, who will join this nucleus, whether it will succeed in founding a powerful organization, whether the USA, the West and other Asian countries like India will be willing to equip it with weapons and finances, especially since it is also unclear to what extent these should be transported if Tajikistan and Russia do not turn a blind eye on it? Airdrop? There is also the question of whether Russia will rely on the Taliban or whether it would be interested in a buffer zone of a Northern Alliance or maybe even play both off against each other in a divide et impera strategy, but it is also possible that Russia, China, Pakistan, Qatar, Erdogan-Turkey support the Taliban and the West and India along with other countries support the Northern Alliance. But at the moment everything is in a state of flux and is far too early to be assessed.
Merkel should have made Afghanistan a top priority during her Putin visit. The Russians do not know whether the Taliban, a buffer zone with a possible Northern Alliance, the partitioning off of the borders in conjunction with Tajikistan, increased deployments of troops to secure borders and fight against Islamism within the SCO, especially since Russia has a significantly higher proportion of Muslims in its federation, as China with the small Xinjiang and to what extent the Taliban can be a contribution to their Eurasia concept and a new multipolar world order. Of course, one could not have expected a clear positioning from Putin, but could have explored options and fed them back to Biden as a message, but since the West and the USA are in a state of shock, driven by surveys, do not want to enter into any further commitments, do not think strategically and prefer to talk about tactical and humanitarian questions of evacuation, i.e. acting provincial, will probably pass the window of opportunity for a Northern Alliance and the Taliban will also completely conquer the North and create facts. With their Islamic Emirate Afghanistan, the Taliban could create something like a unified Afghanistan without warlords and corruption, as Mao’s CP China did at the time through communism and also exterminated the Chinese warlords, corruption, western imperialist urban decadence and minority seperatism and also liberated China from civil wars and imperialist rule. Mao also promised a New Democracy, as the Taliban are now officially more moderate, but then came the Hundred Flowers Movement, the anti-Right campaign, the Great leap forward, the Cultural Revolution against the capitalist roaders Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi and after all that China decided by means of the opening policy and the 4 modernizations that excluded the fifth modernization of a democracy. became an economically strong and well-established country. The Taliban and its various factions may experience a similar future, if between Taliban leaders who want a medieval feufdalist society without foreign economic invasion and cultural imports and perhaps more moderate Taliban-Deng and then arguments about the direction break out. And the CCP was always more centralized and more materialistic than the Taliban. But China apparently believes that it recognizes many parallels between its totalitarianism and that of the Taliban, perhaps mediating this through the intercultural dialogue and the offer to be united against the West. But whether the new Taliban regime will be so stable and can create a new beginning after the war with its Stone Age Islamism, moderating its Islamism, this exactly remains the question. Mao made the same promises about communism in 1949 and Deng took 30 years. And Erdogan-Turkey, Pakistan and Qatar will also try to bring the Talban to a more moderate Islamist position in direction of the AKP or the Muslimbrotherhood for a new Ummah. Saudiarabia which sponsored Pakistan and the maddrassas which created the Talibs will also try to bring them in the direction of Muhammed Bin Salman´s neoWahabbist version of a Vision 2035. It remains to be seen if all this will work out.
Another fancy story by the Trumpists is that Trump freed several Talibs from Guantanamo and Pakistan and with Khalizaid brought Barada in the chief position in the Taliban who was allegedly a moderate and Taliban-Deng and then the Trump deal would work. This makes Trump an ingenous long term strategic thinker as others claim that he is a spontaneous idiot. However this is also questionable and we will see how the relations between Baradar and Achundsada and other Taliban leaders will develop.