As the US-led coalition nears the September 11 deadline for a military drawdown from Afghanistan, an emboldened Taliban has intensified its military operations to siege territories remaining under government control so far. Taliban’s rapid advancements in the country have caused concerns in the region, particularly in New Delhi and Moscow, whose interest lies within a stable Afghanistan. Resultantly, India and Russia are mulling to create a domestic solution to the Taliban problem, much like the Northern Alliance of the late 1990s, to prevent violence spread across Afghanistan’s borders. That Russia’s interference in the region could jeopardise its advancements in the country, a worrisome Taliban has dispatched its delegation to Moscow to reassure Russia of stability in the region.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the Kremlin envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, met with the Taliban representatives to express his concerns over the situation in northern Afghanistan. “We received assurances from the Taliban that they wouldn’t violate the borders of Central Asian countries and also their guarantees of security for foreign diplomatic and consular missions in Afghanistan,” the ministry said.
Earlier Russia had expressed concerns that the recent surge in violence in Afghanistan could destabilise the Central Asian countries in the north of Afghanistan. Taliban doesn’t want to antagonise Russia at this critical juncture of power transition and is making sure to keep Russia in good humour to prevent any untimely predicament for itself. Taliban spokesman Mohammad Sohail Shaheen said their delegation came to Moscow to “assure that we won’t allow anyone to use the Afghan territory to attack Russia or neighbouring countries.” “We have very good relations with Russia,” he was quoted by Tass as saying, adding that the insurgents remain committed to a peaceful political settlement in Afghanistan.
Foreign intervention by the countries like Russia or India could jeopardize the Taliban’s military takeover plans for Afghanistan. Taliban has been courting China of late to secure political and economic assistance from Beijing in order to tighten its grip over the country. The fear of the Northern Alliance being resuscitated is what is prompting the Taliban to persuade Moscow of its plans in Afghanistan.
The Afghan Northern Alliance was a united military front that was formed in late 1996 after the Islamic Taliban took over Kabul. The United Front was assembled by key leaders of the toppled Islamic State of Afghanistan, particularly president Burhanuddin Rabbani and former Defense Minister Ahmad Shah Massoud. The Northern Alliance fought a defensive war against the Pakistan-backed Taliban government. India actively helped the anti-Taliban forces on the ground that dealt a massive blow to the Islamist organisation.
India has been making some very interesting moves of late. After news broke of the U.S. withdrawing troops and packing up its largest military base in Afghanistan, India’s Foreign Minister, Dr S Jaishankar stopped in for a “technical halt” in Iran. On Wednesday, the Indian Foreign Minister met his counterpart, Javad Zarif, and also had an interaction with Iran’s president-elect, Ebrahim Raisi in Iran. Also, Jaishankar has also met his Russian counterpart in Moscow to discuss the future plans for the war-torn country.
Taliban has recently revealed that it controls over 85% of the territory in Afghanistan. Talibani militants have forced hundreds of Afghan security personnel to flee across the border into neighbouring Tajikistan. Russia is prepared to activate a military base in ex-Soviet Tajikistan against advancing Taliban forces on its southern border. More than 1,000 Afghan government troops were reported to have fled north into Tajikistan this week as the Taliban seized dozens of districts in the past two months.
Russia’s intervention is the last thing that the Taliban would want as of today. Russia won’t let the Taliban pursue its military takeover plans to keep away the instability that it would emit into the region. Thus, the Taliban is now going all out to placate Russia to keep Putin’s wrath at bay.