The Islamist group took over Kabul and the vast majority of Afghanistan with relative ease in just weeks. However, in these first days in power there have been several sources of opposition to the new Taliban government. An opposition army is forming around the Panshir valley and in some cities there were demonstrations with the tricolor flag, a symbol of rejection of the Taliban.
The resistance against the Taliban power seems to be organizing after the sudden conquest of Afghanistan by the Islamist group. During the last weeks, the opposition to the Taliban troops was practically nil, however, there is one province of the 34 that make up the Asian country that has not yet fallen into the hands of the Islamist group: the Panshir Valley.
This region is known for its complicated orography, which makes it practically impregnable, and for its frontal opposition to the Taliban government throughout history. Many have attributed the rapid advance of the Taliban, who have encountered little resistance, to alleged local support in many of the conquered regions. However, a number of political and military leaders have called for a challenge to the Islamist group around Panshir.
The first official voice to call for the fight against the Taliban power was former Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who in the face of President Ashraf Ghani’s flight proclaimed himself president and claimed to be inside Afghanistan to lead the resistance of all opponents to the self-proclaimed Islamic Emirate.
Clarity: As per d constitution of Afg, in absence, escape, resignation or death of the President the FVP becomes the caretaker President. I am currently inside my country & am the legitimate care taker President. Am reaching out to all leaders to secure their support & consensus.
– Amrullah Saleh (@ AmrullahSaleh2) August 17, 2021
To do this, Saleh asked to imitate the model that is being carried out in the Panshir region. This inhospitable region was also the only one that was left out of Taliban power between 1996 and 2001 and was the base of the so-called Northern Alliance, a series of armed groups opposed to the Taliban regime that fought it for years until its fall in 2001. .
At the head of this alliance was Ahmad Sah Masud, a mythical commander known as the “Panshir Tiger” who stood up to the Taliban power for years and was assassinated by Al Qaeda two days before the attack on the Twin Towers in September 2001. .
At present it is his son, also called Ahmad Masud, who claims to have taken the witness from his father by bringing together troops opposed to the new Taliban government in this valley. Here, the majority of the population is Tajik, an ethnic minority that represents approximately 25% of the population, and the rivalry is very great with the Pashtuns, the majority ethnic group and birthplace of the Taliban group.
At the moment the real power of these armed forces is unknown, but their internal sources assure that they have been preparing for this moment for 20 years and that they have accumulated weapons for the occasion. The fact that there is a confrontation with the new power in Kabul opens the slight possibility that the conflict escalates and that the international community can intercede again in Afghanistan.
What seems distant is that the power concentrated in Panshir will be able to take Kabul again due to its reduced number compared to the total of Taliban. Its only success in 2001 was thanks to the support of NATO and if the opponents failed to stop the Taliban offensive when they were in power, it seems unlikely that they will succeed now.
Several NGOs have reported an increase in war wounded in the area in what could be the first isolated clashes with the Taliban, who have the difficult task of penetrating a steep series of valleys where there is only one access road.
The tricolor flag, a symbol of resistance
In the large cities of the country the situation seems to be quite different. Most of these large cities fell under the power of the Taliban with little resistance during August, but now certain sectors of the civilian population seem to be rebelling before the new power.
Afghanistan is a nation that has been in constant conflict for almost 40 years and this seems to be the main theory of the lack of struggle on the part of the supporters of the democratic government during the taking of Kabul. For many of them, taking up arms against the Taliban was an unnecessary “bloodbath” for a people exhausted by civil wars.
Precisely under this pretext, former President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, who was located in the United Arab Emirates and who now assures that he wants to return to the country to be part of the conflict resolution negotiations being carried out by certain members of the deposed government and figures relevant such as former President Hamid Karzai.
In all this context, the symbol of rejection of the Taliban is being what was the flag of the State under the democratically elected Government. This flag is still the official one in legal terms, but the Taliban has already replaced it with its own, where the color white dominates with a series of inscriptions that refer to Islamic law.
In Kabul, hundreds of people took to the streets during the independence day of the Asian nation, celebrated on August 19, to demand the return of the tricolor flag that they recognize as official and to protest against the norms imposed by the Taliban. upon his arrival in power.
Women claim not to lose their rights
One of the most worrying aspects of the Taliban advance is the apparent regression of basic rights that women may suffer. The Taliban are known for their extreme orthodoxy regarding what they consider to be the correct interpretation of Islamic law. Under this pretext, they practically confined millions of women to their homes between 1996 and 2001.
Faced with the prospect of not being able to work, study or even go out on their own, dozens of women challenged the Taliban with public protests shortly after the successful takeover of Kabul.
In the main cities of the country, many women have raised slogans against what they fear could be a step backwards in everything they have achieved during this 20 years. Many of them even asked the Islamist group that women could play fundamental roles in the public administration and even the government, something that seems really difficult.
It is true that, in their first appearance, the Taliban assured that it would respect the rights of women, including the right to work or study, but it always clarified that as long as they comply with what is dictated by Islamic law.
Numerous testimonies from rural areas previously conquered by the Taliban assure that this supposed respect for women is non-existent and that it has reverted to pre-2001 practices in most aspects. It remains to be seen whether this also extends to Kabul, where the controversy between the Taliban themselves on this issue is great.
Despite the fact that the almost total conquest of Afghanistan by the Taliban may indicate the inexistence of relevant resistance, they are there and may continue to increase once the new government is consolidated in power. The question now is to know if the Taliban will want to confront all the opposition branches with dialogue and negotiation or if the armed conflict will continue.
With EFE, Reuters and local media