By Kirill Krivosheev
The Taliban has been leading Afghanistan for a month and a half, for the first time made threats against Tajikistan. The reason was the Tajik authorities’ verbal support for the anti-Taliban militia in Panjshir. The situation on the border between the two countries is aggravated: Tajik President Emo-mali Rahmon hosted a military parade there, and the Taliban deployed the most combat-ready forces to the border areas “to repel potential threats”. In the opinion of Kom-mersant’s interlocutors, the sides need tension at the border rather for a pr-opaganda effect, but it can also lead to a real clash.
“We want Tajikistan not to interfere in our internal affairs. We want to have good relations with him, but the country’s interference in the internal affairs of its neighbor cannot serve anyone’s interests. Resistance will be found for every action, ”Abdul-Salam Hanafi, deputy head of the Taliban government, said in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV channel.
These words made the signal the Taliban sent to Dushanbe the day before even more understandable. According to the Deputy Minister of Culture and Information in the Taliban government Zabihulla Mujahid, “dozens of special forces of the Mansuri army of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan were redeployed to the Takhar province bordering on Tajikistan to repel possible threats.
Apparently, such activity of the Taliban was provoked by the speech of the President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon at the UN General Assembly. “The failure of the Taliban to fulfill its earlier promises to form an inclusive government with broad participation of Afghan political and ethnic forces is a matter of grave concern,” said Mr Rahmon in New York. “Today, through the events in Afghanistan’s Panjshir province, we are witnessing a tragic violation of international human rights. The residents of Panjshir are denied access to food and other basic necessities, as well as humanitarian aid, and even the United Nati-ons and the International Committee of the Red Cross are still unable to enter Panjshir to fulfill their humanitarian obligations. ”
At the same time, the Tajik president gave an answer to the possible accusation of interference in the affairs of another state in the speech itself. “We are not going to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. However, we are confident that in order to properly address the political and security issues of the neighboring country, it is necessary to form an inclusive government through elections and the expression of the will of the people of this country with the participation of all political groups and national and ethnic minorities, ”he said. In fact, Mr. Rahmon expressed the same idea a week earlier – at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Dushanbe. Recall that until September 6, Panjshir province, inhabited mainly by Tajiks, remained outside the control of the Taliban.
It was defended by a militia under the command of Ahmad Massoud and the former vice-president of the country, Amrullah Saleh, who even declared himself and. O. heads of state, but at that time no one took these words seriously. When the Taliban forces occupied the provincial capital – Bazarak, Ahmad Masud with the remnants of the fighters retreated to the mountains, but then, according to many media reports, he ended up abroad. In any case, he manages to communicate on the phone with members of the US Congress and periodically reach out to supporters through social networks.
“According to my information, Masud and Saleh are in Tajikistan,” Russian specialist in Central Asia and Afghanistan, Arkady Dubnov, told Kommersant. against the other. However, this can quite rightly be called interference in the affairs of Afghanistan. In addition, there is no longer any conflict there – the resistance has been suppressed, and the Panjshir people themselves are not at all eager to continue unpromising battles. “
At the same time, according to Mr. Dubnov, the statement of the Taliban about the transfer of special forces to the border “is very good for Rahmon.” “Now he can argue that threats against Tajikistan are a reality, and therefore the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization – Kommers-ant) must protect one of its members. There is an exchange of attacks and threats, behind which there are no real intentions. Rahmon’s statements are just propaganda aimed at strengthening the rating through nationalism, and the Taliban are not going to cross the border.” Nevertheless, according to the expert, the danger of a direct clash between the Taliban and the Tajik security forces is still present: Dushanbe may go too far in the desire to declare aggression against itself.
Judging by the Tajik media, such a scenario cannot be ruled out. For example, a source in the Tajik border service told the Tajik editorial office of Radio Liberty (included in the register of foreign media agents in Russia) that the Jamaat Ansarullah organization (banned in Tajikistan), which cooperates with the Taliban and controls the northern border, is preparing an attack to the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO). On Monday, Emomali Rahmon went to this hard-to-reach region of Tajikistan. There he hosted a parade, which was attended by border guards, representatives of the ground forces and law enforcement officers – a total of 2 thousand soldiers and officers, as well as 50 pieces of equipment.
Meanwhile, the president of the National Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, Farhod Rakhimi, in an interview with Kommersant, expressed a point of view opposite to that of Arkady Dubnov. He assured that there is no interference in the affairs of Afghanistan, and the Taliban themselves are going to aggravate.
The President of Tajikistan is firmly convinced that the conflict in Afghanistan is the result of interference by external forces in the affairs of this country, ”said Mr Rahimi.
In his opinion, the recent statements of the Tajik president “come from his concern that a new round of civil confrontation does not begin in this country on the basis of the restrictions that the Taliban have imposed on women, ethnic minorities, and political forces.”
“Tajikistan has experienced the consequences of the civil war. At the same time, Afghanistan influenced the confrontation between us in the 90s of the last century. We do not want our country to face destabilization again, “said academician Rahimi.” Abdul-Salam Hanafi’s statement was made at a time when no state recognized the Taliban government, and Afghanistan is facing incredible difficulties that lead to a humanitarian catastrophe. There are serious disagreements in the leadership of the Taliban, and a new front of resistance to the Taliban is being formed. Under these conditions, the Taliban leadership is probably looking for an external enemy in order to divert attention from their internal problems. “
The leader of the Tajiks Panjsher Ahmad Masud spoke in a similar way, who wrote down an address to the participants of the conference dedicated to his father, the legendary leader of the Afghan mujahideen, Ahmad Shah Masud. It took place on 24 September at the University of Cambridge. “The Taliban have made our country a haven for international terrorism, as well as an isolated and regressive state,” the warlord said. Mr. Masoud called decentralization a desirable scenario for the country’s development: “Based on this model, local communities will be able to elect local leaders and make them accountable. This system has existed in Afghanistan over the past century to one degree or another.”