The U.S. Should Support Diplomacy, Not Armed Resistance, in Afghanistan

The U.S. Should Support Diplomacy, Not Armed Resistance, in Afghanistan
A militiaman loyal to Ahmad Massoud, son of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, stands guard in Panjshir province, Afghanistan, Aug. 26, 2021 (AP photo by Jalaluddin Sekandar).

After a military retreat by Afghanistan’s National Resistance Front last week in the Panjshir Valley, the group’s head of foreign relations, Ali Nazary, appeared in Washington last Friday to vow that it would continue holding out against the Taliban and to seek military assistance for doing so. Yesterday, The New York Times reported that the NRF has hired lobbyist Robert Stryk to seek military and financial support for their ongoing fight against the Taliban. 

The NRF has made similar entreaties to the U.K. and France, as well as other countries closer to Afghanistan. They are one of only several militant groups with the potential to muster an opposition to ongoing Taliban rule. This flurry of effort to attract external backing signals that the Taliban will not go unopposed despite their recent appearance of a military victory. How the international community responds will make all the difference. 

To those wary of the implications of autocratic rule by the Taliban, the option to support opposition groups will be tempting. The Taliban’s acting government includes no opposition voices. Its rout of the NRF in the Panjshir Valley included mass killings of captured resistance fighters as well as whole families. The Taliban is also carrying out reprisal killings and torture against those who once supported the U.S. occupation and their families. The NRF, as well as the exiled former Afghan government, does deserve assistance and support from the international community in reaching a more stable and inclusive governing structure as well as other demands, such as provincial autonomy in Panjshir, a solution that has worked well to stem other civil conflicts.

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