In the current period, Ahmad Massoud, the leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF), finds himself residing in France. During his stay, he has engaged with numerous leaders from French political parties and the Afghan community living in the country. He also took part in the unveiling ceremony of a book published under his name. Massoud stands out as one of the rare opposition figures against the Taliban, advocating for armed resistance, emphasizing that the Taliban comprehend only the language of weapons. Additionally, he participated in an interview with France Inter radio, addressing several queries posed by the radio station. To thoroughly assess the content of this interview, it is essential to delve into the following points.
At the commencement of the interview, Ahmad Massoud declared, “We, the opposition against the Taliban, stand alone, and I am here to amplify the voice of the Afghan people to the world.” He further stated, “When Kabul fell, the French Embassy suggested I relocate to France, yet I declined, choosing instead to stand alongside the people, refusing to abandon them.” Massoud’s statement underscores his solidarity with the populace, his relocation to Panjshir post the fall of Kabul, and his initiation of resistance against the Taliban. Nevertheless, his portrayal of standing with the people while donning battle attire and leading the Panjshir war against the Taliban requires scrutiny.
Despite fervently denouncing the Taliban from Panjshir, Massoud fled the battleground before the Taliban seized the province, leaving the vulnerable citizens, who had placed their hopes solely on him, to grapple with innumerable challenges. His passionate anti-Taliban rhetoric and claims of resisting until his last breath earned him considerable acclaim, transforming him into a legend when others fled. Regrettably, this approach only exacerbated the suffering of the defenseless and innocent people, subjecting them to torture and persecution instead of offering assistance. Over the past two years, the leadership of the front committed the same error repeatedly, organizing armed demonstrations that left numerous young people in Panjshir Province and the Andarab district as victims.
When questioned about the situation in Panjshir Province, Massoud asserted, “Our forces occupy certain mountains and valleys. The Taliban aspire to control our strongholds but are unable to do so. They are confined to the large valleys, while we operate in other areas.” However, these statements do not align with the actual circumstances. Following the demise of Commander Malek and Commander Khanjar, alongside dozens of their companions in the heights of Dara district in September 2022, the NRF lost its presence in Panjshir, both on the roads and in the heights. Over the past year, the Taliban dedicated substantial efforts to establish dominance at Panjshir’s highest points, hindering the armed opposition’s activities. They constructed roads to various elevated locations in the valley. The leaders and commanders of the resistance front, present in Panjshir until 2022, fled to neighboring countries, ceasing to pose any threat to the Taliban. Consequently, no military action against the Taliban has occurred in Panjshir over the past year. It raises the question: are the military officials of the Resistance Front misleading Massoud, or is he deliberately asserting the opposite?
Massoud emphasized, “I did not seek foreign forces’ intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, nor do I advocate for it now. At that time, I opposed the establishment of foreign military bases as well.” Readers must contemplate the following: given Massoud’s current age of 34, he was merely 12 years old in 2001. How could a 12-year-old child decide whether American troops should enter Afghanistan, especially considering his father’s leadership in the anti-Taliban resistance? At that juncture, what role did he play in the anti-Taliban front, granting him the authority to permit or prohibit foreign involvement? Ahmad Massoud’s narrative of the past remains perplexing and subjective, leaving room for deeper examination and analysis.
Ahmad Massoud fervently calls upon the global community to impose sanctions on the Taliban, extend political support to their opponents, and seek a reasonable resolution to the crisis in Afghanistan. He also urges regional nations to increase their involvement in crafting a political solution. Both Western nations and neighboring countries perceive their interests as intertwined with engaging the Taliban. In the realm of realpolitik, ethical considerations often take a backseat. Human rights and women’s rights issues within a country are overlooked in favor of safeguarding governments’ interests. Thomas West, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan, explicitly stated that women’s and human rights issues are internal matters for Afghanistan, not concerns of the international community.
It is naive to assume that the Taliban solely attained power through sheer military might. Various pieces of evidence suggest that this group is part of a plan devised by some Western countries to extricate themselves from the Afghan quagmire. Diplomatic visits, even by security officials, from certain Western nations to Kabul have likely revealed crucial insights to analysts studying the situation.
The eminent British philosopher Bertrand Russell posited that great world leaders emerge at pivotal moments in history. He stressed that the success of political or military leaders, besides their individual talent and efforts, is contingent upon the prevailing circumstances and contexts. Ahmad Shah Massoud, the former Afghan guerrilla commander, gained prominence due to global and regional dynamics supporting him, in addition to his exceptional personal abilities. Aspiring to replicate Massoud’s achievements in vastly different circumstances is unrealistic and disregards essential facts. Ignoring the surrounding situations and global dynamics only leads to wasted efforts. A wise leader navigates within the realm of possibilities.
Furthermore, if the Taliban opposition lacks strength and control over specific territories, it becomes challenging for the world to heed their requests. Countries are reluctant to antagonize the heavily armed Taliban, who dominate Afghanistan entirely, boast hundreds of thousands of seasoned fighters, and pose unnecessary threats in the volatile region. Moreover, these nations believe that engaging with the Taliban can safeguard their regional interests. If anti-Taliban forces managed to secure a portion of Afghanistan’s geography, the world might be more receptive to their concerns. Superficial meetings with parliamentarians or party leaders yield negligible results.
The Taliban’s rule over Afghanistan constitutes a full-scale catastrophe, necessitating collective efforts to bring it to an end. However, indulging in wishful thinking and illusions won’t resolve this dire situation. Mere slogans and bravado do not cure our woes. Over the years, we have witnessed leaders who, at the first sign of adversity, abandoned their slogans and chose flight. A leader’s empty rhetoric confuses followers, preventing them from perceiving reality. A genuine leader refrains from misleading their people, presenting a clear and pragmatic perspective to guide them through challenging times.