Wednesday, March 3, 2021

in the Panchir Valley, resistance is reborn against the Taliban

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On the winding road that leads to the heart of the Panchir Valley, in northeastern Afghanistan, the stronghold of the legendary commander Ahmed Chah Massoud, hero of the resistance against the Soviets and then the Taliban, the slogans painted on the carcasses of abandoned tanks celebrate this glorious past. But the large posters at the entrance to Bazarak, the capital of this Tajik province, which the Islamist insurgents never conquered, do not hide that the time has perhaps come to take up arms again. To once again resist the Taliban, who could emerge in a position of strength from the ongoing peace process in Doha, Qatar.

“Addiction is a shame”, indicates an inscription, recalling the words of Commander Massoud, killed by Al-Qaida, two days before the attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center, in New York, on September 11, 2001. At the beginning of October, at Panchir, criticism is increasing, in fact, against President Ashraf Ghani’s inability to manage the country and to conduct genuine negotiations with the Taliban to end twenty years of war. The face-to-face meeting in Doha between the Kabul delegation and the Taliban has stalled and has stumbled since September 12 on questions of form. In fact, the insurgents dictate their law and their agenda to a weakened regime.

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In this mountainous valley, many Panchiris are now calling for ” autonomy “ and want to go it alone. “The Afghan government is weak, laments Roohullah Yousoufi, in charge of the Ahmed Chah Massoud Foundation and his mausoleum. The Taliban are able to take power if they want to. It is possible that a civil war will break out. So it’s up to people to defend themselves. “ Young, Roohullah Yousoufi fought against the Taliban alongside the Lion of Panchir, the nickname of Commander Massoud, as many inhabitants of the valley enlisted in the Northern Alliance.

Deep mistrust

These Afghans have found themselves a new figurehead against the government: Ahmed Chah Massoud’s own son, Ahmed, 31 years old. After studying political science in the United Kingdom and following the military academy of Sandhurst, he has since come out of the shadows and tries to mobilize against the return of the Taliban. “From the start, I was against the way in which the bilateral pre-agreement [signé le 29 février] was made between the Americans and the Taliban, because the Afghan government was left out, regrets Ahmed Massoud, from his office in Kabul. This undermined the morale of the Afghan state and that of the armed forces, and it encouraged the insurgents who have since increased the attacks. “

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