How Russia’s Patronage Expedited Taliban’s Kabul Takeover?

The destiny of Afghanistan was sealed as quickly because the US forces evacuated Bagram airbase…

The destiny of Afghanistan was sealed as quickly because the US forces evacuated Bagram airbase within the useless of the evening on July 1, six weeks earlier than the inevitable fall of Kabul on August 15. Bagram was the nerve middle from the place all of the operations throughout Afghanistan had been directed, particularly the important air help to the US-backed Afghan safety forces with out which they had been merely irregular militias ready to be devoured by the wolves.

Evacuating Bagram was the watershed second when the skipper switched the engines off and intimated sailors henceforth they’d have to make use of oars to drift the ship ashore. Unsurprisingly, the doomed ship sank to the underside of the ocean even earlier than the crew might scramble over to the refuge of the protection boats.

In southern Afghanistan, the normal stronghold of the Pashtun ethnic group from which the Taliban attracts most of its help, the Taliban navy offensive was spearheaded by Mullah Yaqoob, the son of the Taliban’s late founder Mullah Omar and the newly appointed protection minister of the Taliban authorities, as district after district in southwest Afghanistan, together with the birthplace of the Taliban motion Kandahar and Helmand, fell in fast succession.

What has shocked navy strategists and longtime observers of the Afghan warfare, although, was the Taliban’s northern blitz, occupying virtually the entire of northern Afghanistan in a matter of weeks, as northern Afghanistan was the bastion of the Northern Alliance comprising the Tajik and Uzbek ethnic teams, which had been identified to have longstanding enmity with the Pashtun Taliban.

It’s a longtime truth {that a} grassroots insurgency anyplace can’t be sustained for lengthy except it attracts some degree of common help from the native inhabitants. But when the leaders of the Northern Alliance had been allied with the US occupation forces and waging a fierce battle in opposition to the Taliban, then which regional pressure instigated the Tajik and Uzbek ethnic teams to insurgent in opposition to their management and be part of ranks with the Taliban in its holy warfare in opposition to the international occupation?

In an explosive investigative report [1] final July, Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty, a US government-funded group, revealed: “When the Taliban captured a strategically essential safety checkpoint close to Afghanistan’s border with Tajikistan final month, it assigned a Tajik militant to lift the Taliban flag on the positioning.

“The militant goes by the alias Mahdi Arsalon and has a gaggle of fighters from Tajikistan below his command, an eyewitness to the flag-raising and different sources advised RFE-RL. The Taliban additionally put Arsalon and his group in control of safety in 5 districts the Taliban seized close to the Tajik border in latest months.

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“In Afghanistan, Arsalon and different Tajik militants are generally known as the Tajik Taliban. However in actuality they’re members of Jamaat Ansarullah, which is banned in Tajikistan as a terrorist group.

“Jamaat Ansarullah was based by a rogue former Tajik opposition commander a decade in the past with the last word aim of overthrowing the federal government in Dushanbe. Mahdi Arsalon’s actual title is Muhammad Sharifov. Sharifov, 25, was born within the village of Sherbegiyon in Tajikistan’s jap Rasht Valley.”

Though Tajikistan, led by President Emomali Rahmon, is the one Central Asian State nonetheless hostile to the Taliban, regardless of the Kremlin’s insistence it strike a extra conciliatory tone with the brand new de facto energy in Afghanistan, what the RFE-RL report didn’t disclose is the truth that behind the again of the Emomali authorities, the Russian safety businesses clandestinely nurtured not solely Jamaat Ansarullah, led by Tajik militant chief Mahdi Arsalon, but in addition a number of different smaller teams and breakaway factions of Tajik and Uzbek militants and persuaded them to affix ranks with the Taliban in its warfare in opposition to the US forces and the allied Northern Alliance collaborators in Afghanistan.

Whereas offering a number of “pointless particulars” on the backside of the article, which the authors of the report had been seemingly unaware of themselves, the RFE-RL report spilled the key: “In line with sources in Tajikistan, Sharifov aka Mahdi Arsalon joined Jamaat Ansarullah about seven years in the past […] Sharifov was accepted into the seventh grade due to his age regardless that he had not ever attended state faculties earlier than.

“After graduating in 2015, he disappeared from the village and nobody in Nurobod ever noticed him once more. Sharifov’s mom, Zulqada Yunusova, advised RFE-RL that her son went to Russia as a migrant employee in 2015.

“RFE-RL additionally spoke with a former pal of Sharifov who claims Sharifov tried to persuade him to affix the jihad in Afghanistan. The Tajik man spoke on situation of anonymity for safety causes. The person stated he first met Sharifov after they labored in Russia they usually stayed in touch on WhatsApp till about two months in the past.”

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Clearly, Sharifov and his band of militants had been recruited by safety businesses whereas he was trying to find some menial job in Russia. Following the Ukraine disaster in 2014 and consequent souring of relations between the Kremlin and the Western powers, Russia militarily intervened in Syria in September 2015.

On the similar time, Russian safety businesses additionally started offering funds and weapons to the Afghan militants battling the NATO forces. Reportedly, Russia additionally supplied bounties [2] to the Taliban to seek out American troopers.

In an August 2017 report [3] for the New York Occasions, Carlotta Gall described the killing of former Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a US drone strike in Pakistan’s western Balochistan province in Could 2016 whereas he was on his approach again from a secret assembly with Russian and Iranian officers in Iran.

In line with the Occasions report, “Iran facilitated a gathering between Mullah Akhtar Mansour and Russian officers, Afghan officers stated, securing funds and weapons from Moscow for the insurgents.”

It’s value noting, nonetheless, that it wasn’t simply Russia that was in mattress with the Taliban. The allegations by regional power-brokers that Washington, too, had offered materials help to splinter teams of the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) as a tit-for-tat response to Pakistan’s safety businesses’ double recreation of nurturing the Afghan Taliban aren’t completely unfounded.

A information report leaked [4] in March 2018, throughout the trial of the widow of Orlando nightclub shooter, Omar Mateen, an ethnic Afghan residing within the US who had killed 49 individuals and wounded 53 others in a mass taking pictures on the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016, that his father, Seddique Mateen, was an FBI informant for eleven years.

In an e mail, the prosecution revealed to the protection lawyer of Noor Salman, the widow of Omar Mateen, that Seddique Mateen was an FBI informant from January 2005 to June 2016 and had been sending cash to Afghanistan and Turkey, more likely to fund violent revolt in opposition to the federal government of Pakistan.

Equally, in November 2018, infighting between the principle faction of the Afghan Taliban led by Mullah Haibatullah Akhunzada and a breakaway faction led by Mullah Mohammad Rasul left scores of fighters useless in Afghanistan’s western Herat province.

Mullah Rasul was near Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, and served because the governor of southwestern Nimroz province throughout the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. After the information of the dying of Mullah Omar was made public by the Afghan intelligence in 2015, Mullah Rasul broke ranks with the Taliban and shaped his personal faction.

Mullah Rasul’s group was lively within the provinces of Herat, Farah, Nimroz and Helmand, and was identified to have acquired arms and help from the Afghan intelligence, as he had expressed willingness to acknowledge the Washington-backed Kabul authorities.

Relating to Washington’s motives for offering covert help to breakaway factions of the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani militants, the US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, within the aftermath of the 9/11 terror assault, and toppled the Taliban regime with the assistance of the Northern Alliance comprising ethnic Tajik and Uzbek warlords.

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For the reason that starting, nonetheless, Afghanistan was an space of lesser precedence for the Bush administration. The variety of US troops deployed in Afghanistan didn’t exceed past 30,000 throughout George Bush’s tenure as president, and shortly after occupying Afghanistan, Washington invaded Iraq in March 2003 and American sources and focus shifted to Iraq.

It was the Obama administration that made the Afghanistan battle the bedrock of its international coverage in 2009 together with fulfilling then-President Obama’s electoral pledge of withdrawing American forces from Iraq in December 2011.

On the top of the surge of the US troops in Afghanistan in 2010, the American troops numbered round 100,000, with an extra 40,000 troops from the remainder of the worldwide coalition, however they nonetheless couldn’t handle to have a long-lasting impact on the relentless Taliban insurgency.

The management and fighters of the Taliban discovered sanctuary in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, and mounted an insurgency in opposition to the Washington-backed Kabul authorities. All through the occupation years, Washington saved pressuring Islamabad to mount navy operations within the lawless tribal areas to be able to deny secure havens to the Taliban.

Nonetheless, Islamabad was reluctant to conduct navy operations, which is a euphemism for all-out warfare, for the worry of alienating the Pashtun inhabitants of the tribal areas. After Pakistan’s safety forces’ raid in July 2007 on a mosque (Lal Masjid) within the middle of Islamabad, which additionally contained a non secular seminary, scores of civilians, together with college students of the seminary, died.

The Pakistani Taliban made the incident a rallying name for waging a jihad in opposition to Pakistan’s navy. Thereafter, terror assaults and suicide bombings in opposition to Pakistan’s state equipment peaked following the July 2007 Lal Masjid incident. Finally, below stress from then-Obama administration, Pakistan’s navy determined in 2009 to conduct navy operations in opposition to militants based mostly in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

The primary navy operation was mounted within the Swat valley in April 2009, the second in South Waziristan tribal company in October the identical yr, and the third navy operation was launched in North Waziristan and Khyber tribal businesses in June 2014. Within the ensuing violence, tens of hundreds of civilians, safety personnel and militants misplaced their lives.

Though Pakistani political commentators typically level fingers on the Washington-backed Kabul authorities in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s arch-foe India for offering cash and arms to the Pakistani militants for waging a guerrilla warfare in opposition to Pakistan’s state equipment, reportedly Washington, too, had offered covert help to the Pakistani Taliban to be able to pressure Pakistan’s navy to conduct navy operations in opposition to militants based mostly in Pakistan’s tribal areas.


[1] Taliban Places Tajik Militants Partially In Cost Of Afghanistan’s Northern Border:

[2] Eric Schmitt: Russia supplied bounties to Taliban for killing People.

[3] Carlotta Gall: In Afghanistan, U.S. Exits, and Iran Comes In:

[4] Pulse Nightclub Gunman’s Father Was an FBI Informant:

Concerning the writer:

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based geopolitical and nationwide safety analyst centered on geo-strategic affairs and hybrid warfare within the Af-Pak and Center East areas. His domains of experience embody neocolonialism, military-industrial complicated and petro-imperialism. He’s a daily contributor of diligently researched investigative stories to various information media.