The Taliban really wants to prove to the whole world their legitimacy and readiness for dialogue. The radical Islamists who have established control over most of the territory of Afghanistan have learned from their mistakes 20 years ago. They even created an anti-terrorist structure, however, the question is, who will it catch? Now the Taliban need international recognition and diplomatic relations with the leading players in international politics.
True, they do not intend to hold elections and referendums, having taken power by force, which is not very welcomed by international law. However, as long as there is even a drop of hope in the West and in Russia that the Taliban will be able to turn Afghanistan into some kind of a stable country, the Taliban can really count on the actual recognition of their power. China, which simultaneously persecutes its own citizens, the Islamist Uyghurs, and supports Pakistan, which actually lives according to Sharia law, is not afraid of the Taliban. China’s tough laws allow Beijing to believe that the People’s Army and Security Services will easily eliminate any threat of terrorism.
However, the West should not flatter itself for two reasons. First, because of democratic values. They are the cornerstone of European democracy, which is at the heart of the very existence of the EU. Only a democratically elected government is legitimate. And in Kabul, radical Islamists have not held and will not hold anything even remotely resembling an election. Secondly, the Taliban is not a political party, but a very radical political and religious organization. It pursues the goal of spreading its ideology to at least all the historical lands of Muslims from Chinese Xianjing to Spain! And their weapons are terror, sabotage, propaganda.
Seeing Taliban Afghanistan as a way to distract Russia from European problems is like taking napalm to ants in your house. The ants will burn, but the house also will burn with them. Terror has no boundaries. So, whether old Europe wants it or not, the only alternative to the Taliban now is the abandoned leader of the National Resistance Front, Ahmad Masud, who continues to fight in the Panjshir Gorge! However, he has enough potential allies. It must be known that the Taliban are, first of all, the Pashtun movement – an ethnic group that makes up 50% of the population of Afghanistan.
Massoud, on the other hand, represents not only the democratic forces, but also 23% of local Tajiks. He, in turn, is supported by the Hazaras (10%) and Uzbeks (9%).
In addition, the danger of ethnic cleansing of local Tajiks and Uzbeks is forcing Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to support the last stronghold of democratic forces in Afghanistan. Namely, relying on the ethnic diversity of Afghanistan, Masood, who still remains in the country and controls part of the Panshir province, repeatedly declares the need to create a more decentralized government and de facto federalization of the country.
He started talking about it back in August after giving up his decorative position in the Taliban government and continues now. According to Massoud’s plan, the regions should receive more autonomy, and ethnic groups more rights. This, at least, will allow them to protect themselves from the Taliban laws at the local level. This is especially significant if we keep in mind that Taliban laws are contrary to all modern legal norms. In support of Massoud’s ideas, rallies are held in the provinces inhabited by Uzbeks and Hazaras. For example, in the mountainous Bamiyan, 130 kilometers from Kabul. There, under the pro-Masudian slogans, the riots have been going on for days. Locals are asking the Taliban to leave, and radical Islamists are afraid to take tough measures …
Russia also demands an inclusive, democratic government from the Taliban, although it is obvious that Moscow, will in any case, be forced to communicate with the new masters of Kabul. Without the intervention of the Kremlin, the region will face a big war, and this is not good for Europe. The flow of refugees, and with it the terrorists, will rush not to the north, to Russia, but along the old routes through Turkey and Greece to prosperous Europe.
So, Ahmad Massoud remains the only hope for containing the Taliban, and perhaps those who can transform Afghanistan into a relatively peaceful federation, where there will be no ethnic cleansing that radical Islamists have already begun in Panjshir. And the Western world is simply obliged to support him, to support pro democratic forces – perhaps even enlisting the support of Russia.