Russia Is Returning To Afghanistan As An Intermediary

Russia Is Returning To Afghanistan As An Intermediary

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There was a sensation of sorts on the diplomatic front. A representative of the political office of the Taliban (a movement banned in Russia), which controls almost the entire territory of Afghanistan, visited the Russian embassy in Kabul and asked Russia to mediate in negotiations with groups that do not recognize the Taliban in the north of the country, inviting them to enter into dialogue and avoid civil war. This opens up new horizons for Russia to expand its influence in the region.

Russia’s Diplomatic Return to Afghanistan Image © The Radical Outlook

By Vladimir Khomyakov

The Afghan province of Panjshir today remains the only region not under the control of the Taliban *: all the anti-Taliban forces and the Afghan military who have not surrendered have dug in and are gathering there, the son of the late head of the Tajik Northern Alliance, Ahmad Shah Masud, Ahmad Masud, and Vice President of Afghanistan Amru, who has declared himself “legitimate president” Saleh. The Taliban representative asked to convey that until now they have not made any attempts to enter the Panjshir by force, and are determined to resolve all issues peacefully.

At the same time, Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov is inclined to trust the Taliban’s intentions “to settle the situation in a more civilized manner than Saleh.” Moreover, in Kabul itself, the Taliban maintain order – “everything is fine for the eighth day in a row.” In addition, what is most important to us, our diplomats are convinced that the Taliban have no plans for expansion into the countries of Central Asia. As the ambassador said:

I don’t believe they will go. They have too much to do at home.

Panjshir – like a time bomb

Mountain Panjshir was a big problem even during our ten-year Afghan war. Several “panjsher” operations to liquidate the Tajik group of Ahmad Shah Massoud, despite some successes, were not crowned with victory and led to serious losses. When in 1996 the formed Taliban movement expelled the “mujahideen” groups who had fought for power from Kabul and became power itself, Panjshir became a headache for him too: Ahmad Shah Masud cobbled together the “Northern Alliance” from Tajik field commanders, which controlled up to 25% territory of the country in the north of Afghanistan with 5.5 million people and a 60,000-strong army, which enjoyed the support of both “Yeltsin’s” Russia and the United States.

And although the Taliban eventually succeeded in significantly reducing the area of ​​this enclave and eliminating Ahmad Shah Massoud in 2001, the independent “Masudistan” he created existed until the American invasion in 2001 and the expulsion of the Taliban. In which the formations of the “Northern Alliance” took an active part: the Americans hired them for all ground operations, themselves limiting themselves to bombing and protecting their bases. In addition to money and old accounts, the “northerners” had one more argument: the basis of their economy was the production of drugs, which the Taliban prohibited, and which, after the arrival of the Americans, was put on an industrial basis.

Now, after the withdrawal of American troops and the triumphant return of the Taliban, the idea of ​​”Masudistan” is again in demand. The Americans, just like the British, leaving India, are doing everything to dismember Afghanistan and push its separate parts together in order to get a pretext for new external intervention. No wonder that ex-President Trump said that

we’ll have to go back. We need to return when the moment is right.

That is why now all the units of the army of the ousted pro-American government that have retained their combat capability are being transferred to the north, the Northern Alliance and the Uzbek units of another Taliban adversary, General Dostum, are being reanimated and fed. It was for this that the Americans tried (unsuccessfully thanks to Russia’s position) to achieve the withdrawal of their troops to bases in the neighboring countries of Central Asia.

Our interest in Afghanistan

From the point of view of the geopolitical interests of the United States, a full-fledged civil war in Afghanistan with a mass of casualties and destruction is extremely beneficial for them. First, there can be no question of any reconstruction of the country, inviting foreign specialists, foreign investments to organize the extraction of minerals that should replace drugs as the basis of Afghan exports. Secondly, a blood feud between the Pashtuns-Taliban and the Uzbek-Tajik population of the north of the country will be laid for a hundred years ahead, on which it will be possible to play, fanning instability at the right time. Third, the West has a local analogue of the “Syrian opposition”, which it can always recognize as the “legitimate government of Afghanistan” and enter the country again at its “invitation.” And finally.

Needless to say, all of the above “pluses” for the United States are “minuses” for Russia? That is why, realizing the community of interests that arose in this issue, the Taliban turned to our country with a request to become an intermediary in negotiations with the “northerners” on ending the civil war. The authority of Russia in Afghanistan is high: the “shuravi” are respected both as worthy opponents in the past, and how many good things they built for the Afghans during the Soviet era, and as an influential player in the countries of Central Asia adjacent to Afghanistan.

In confirmation of this – a curious incident that happened to Ukrainian soldiers from PMCs, abandoned in Afghanistan by their fugitive American friends. Despite Zelensky’s oath promises, Nazalezhnaya was in no hurry to take out their own, and the Taliban, as you know, do not differ in humanism with regard to the “accomplices of the occupiers”. Therefore, when they did come, the Ukrainians did not find anything better than to introduce themselves as “Russians”, after which they were immediately released in peace. For the building of relations with Russia today for the Taliban is one of the priority tasks than our cunning Ukrainian “non-brothers”, without thinking twice, and took advantage of. It is difficult, however, to predict how they will react to their voluntary enrollment in the “Muscovites” at home, but they have kept their lives, at least thanks to Russia’s reputation.

So after all: are they “terrorists” or “a party to the negotiations”?

Yes, there remains, of course, an ethical aspect: for, on the one hand, the Taliban are now in power in Afghanistan, and we need to somehow negotiate with them. On the other hand, they are still listed as “a terrorist organization banned in the country.” It is no coincidence that as soon as Moscow began to negotiate with the Taliban, almost all of our “handshake” liberals and a good half of the experts cried out sadly:

But how is it possible to sit down at the negotiating table with terrorists? Moreover – with those banned in Russia ?!

That is, the Americans, Chinese and Turks can negotiate with the Taliban, but Russia cannot.

Yes, the Taliban are still listed as a “terrorist organization”. And, without a doubt, the West will do everything to keep it that way in the future. Indeed, according to his “double standards”, in order to be considered a “terrorist”, it is absolutely unnecessary to organize terrorist attacks with civilian victims. And on the contrary, the same West called the Chechen terrorists who arranged such a thing “freedom fighters”, and Margaret Thatcher did not hesitate to pose for a photo with the head of “Ichkeria” Maskhadov. For the well-known American approach “he is, of course, a son of a bitch, but he is OUR son of a bitch” and today remains unchanged.

Obviously, the new “rules of life” published for Afghanistan by the Taliban will not contribute to warm relations with the West. It is not even a matter of their conservative-Islamic attitude to the “women’s issue”, which (as the example of the neighboring Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where the woman Benazir Bhutto was even prime minister, shows) is being “treated” over time. But what is prohibited under pain of death is the production of drugs (by the way, one of the reasons for the “opposition” to the Taliban from the “Northern Alliance”), homosexuality (but what about “tolerance” ?!) Afghanistan out of the control of transnational bankers and the IMF) – this is really serious and almost insurmountable, which means that the West’s struggle with the Taliban will continue.

As for the UN Security Council’s decision to recognize the Taliban as a terrorist organization, let us not forget that it was adopted under pressure from the Americans in 2003, when the United States had already occupied Afghanistan, and the Taliban were guerrilla against them with might and main. In this sense, “terrorists” can be called, as does today’s Ukraine, for example, the Donbas militias defending their land.

Yes, at one time the Taliban (as well as almost all Muslim countries, which for some reason we did not declare “terrorist” for this), in the order of “Islamic solidarity” supported the Dudayev separatists in Chechnya, but with this the claims specifically from Russia to the “Taliban” seems to be running out. Yes, the Americans attribute them to a number of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. But, interestingly, the Taliban themselves did not admit their authorship in any of them, which is completely unnatural for terrorists. It is quite possible that behind these terrorist attacks are either the notorious “Al-Qaeda” created by the CIA or ISIS, with which the Taliban have been fighting fiercely since 2015.

So, even if the Taliban fulfill a number of conditions, the stigma of a “terrorist organization” from the Taliban may well be removed in the foreseeable future. Indeed, in fact, it is in no way more “terrorist” than the CIA, the British Mi-6, or the Israeli Mossad, which were duly noted in Chechnya, the Middle East, and many other places.

“Politics is the art of the possible,” Talleyrand said. And if today the situation is such that, having reached an agreement with the Taliban, Russia will be able not only to establish peace on the southern border of its Central Asian “zone of influence”, but also again become one of the main foreign policy players in this important region, then why not try to do it ?!

So what?

Oddly enough it sounds, but today it is the Taliban, who have grown wiser over the past 20 years, not as if in 1996 to walk through the rebellious territories “with fire and sword”, but to agree in order to avoid controlled chaos that the Americans are trying to create after their departure. At the same time, they are ready to share power and even create a coalition government. 

Is it in our interests? Without a doubt, yes. For to have at our side Afghanistan mired in a long-term civil war, millions of refugees and the destabilization of Central Asia with millions of refugees from there to Russia – we absolutely do not need all this. As well as the re-return of the Americans. But equally, we do not need to get involved in Afghanistan ourselves to support one of the parties to the conflict.

It is not without reason that Vladimir Putin, at his talks with Merkel, recognized the Taliban’s coming to power as “the realities of the day” and called on the international community to prevent the collapse of Afghanistan. As for the Afghan interior, the President stressed that: 

We know Afghanistan, we know it well. We were convinced of how this country is organized and how counterproductive it is to impose unusual forms of government and public life on it. Any such socio-political experiments have never been crowned with success.

 Such a balanced position cannot but rejoice, for it says that Russia understands its interest in Afghanistan, but is not going to step on the “Soviet rake” twice.

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect our Editorial Policy.


Author

Vladimir Khomyakov is a Journalist, publicist, public figure


Republishing is allowed with the copyright credit to © The Radical Outlook

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The Radical Outlook

The Radical Outlook is an online news web Portal designed for in-depth news analysis from the Eurasian region and beyond. It is Founded by a geopolitical analyst Shahzada Rahim.
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