Nine Months after the Taliban established the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the first contours of a resistance movement are evident.
There is no gainsaying that these first embers of opposition to the Taliban may not reflect a threat to the Defacto Authority in Kabul as of now but denote the overall structure of an opposition that may in the future threaten or even dislodge the radical conservative regime. But that is in the medium to long term. For the short term, the Taliban is here to stay
Importantly the regime will fail due to policies which are inimical to the interests of the Afghan nation and the people at large such as lack of inclusiveness, equity of rights and freedoms, continued dalliance with international and regional terrorist groups amongst other factors.
These factors have given rise to the opposition which is taking political as well as violent forms.
Here is a review of some of the organizations formed by the opposition while their potential will be assessed from time to time as we go by-
Supreme Council of National Resistance for the Salvation of Afghanistan
The Supreme Council of National Resistance for the Salvation of Afghanistan appears to be politically the most significant opposition to the Taliban that has emerged and includes political leaders who have been part of the mainstream for the past three to four decades in the country.
The first meeting of the group is reported to have taken place on May 17th in Ankara, Turkey. An initial declaration was made in October 22, last year.
At the May 17 meeting the who’s who of the opposition to the Taliban was present to include Abdul Rashid Dostum, Mohammad Mohaqiq, Abdurrab Rasoul Sayyaf, Atta Mohammad Noor, Mir Rahman Rahmani, Mohammad Alam Ezedyar, representatives of Salahuddin Rabbani and Ismail Khan, and others. The meeting was held at the residence of Abdul Rashid Dostum in Turkey.
In a significant declaration the Council supported armed resistance against the Taliban in Panjshir, Baghlan, Takhar, Badakhshan, Parwan, Kapisa and Samangan, and other parts of the country “legitimate,” and appealed for support for the resistance.
A call has also been made to the Taliban to return to the negotiating table with a view to form an inclusive government.
In October last year, the council outlined agendas in two parts; political to achieve peace through negotiation, and a “military-defense” to take up arms. The latter is now already active with several groups formed to resist the Taliban even though the primary course adopted by the Council is a political one.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid rejected the statement of violence in the country and indicated that Afghanistan is safe, and that war would not be allowed
The Taliban claimed that Return and Communications Commission has been set up and a national level meeting is being organized for inclusiveness. Ironically, they have even called former Afghan Republic President Ashraf Ghani for this meeting the date for which has not been set.
National Resistance Front of Afghanistan
As the alliance led by Ahmad Massoud and acting Vice-President Amrullah Saleh the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA) poses the most significant security challenge to the Taliban
Ahmad Masood, son of the Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Masood who was killed in a terrorist attack days prior to 9/11 has widespread support in the Pashtun belt.
NRFA is expected to launch a series of attacks during the coming spring summer campaigning season.
Former Interior Minister Masood Andrai has also organized resistance, which is active in Andrab, a high-altitude valley in the northern province of Baghlan but it is not clear if he is aligned with the NRFA.
Attacks have also been reported in recent weeks in the Kapisa, Parwan, Badakhshan, Takhar, Ghor, Sar-e Pol, and Jawzjan provinces. The violence is distinct from the IS-K attacks that have mainly targeted Shi'ite mosques and schools in Kabul and several Afghan cities this month.
Tahreek-e-Azadi Afghanistan (Afghanistan Freedom Movement)
Tahreek-e-Azadi Afghanistan (Afghanistan Freedom Movement) claimed responsibility for an attack on the 209th Al Fath Taliban Corps convoy in Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh province on May 19, in Mazar-e-Sharif Sharif’s 5th district.
This group was initially active only on the social media as Twitter and Facebook and is said to have the goal of “fighting for freedom of the country from occupation.” General Yasin Zia, a former defence minister and chief of general staff, is said to be one of the Front's leaders.
The group claimed attacks on Taliban targets in several provinces, from Badakhshan in the north to Kandahar in the south, offering as proof night time videos of fighting as per the Voice of America.
Former Défense Minister Bismillah Khan could also be affiliated with this group.
Afghanistan Islamic National & Liberation Movement.
Afghanistan Islamic National & Liberation Movement is believed to be the only major Pashtun anti-Taliban group. Led by Abdul Mateen Sulaimankhail, a former Afghan Army special forces commander.
It is not clear if the Liberation Movement and the Liberation Front of Afghanistan are same organisations.
Sulaimankhail has claimed that his group is active in “military and political activities” in 26 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and is based in Nangarhar.
Some of the other groups active are Noor Guerrillas affiliated to the Tajik warlord Ata Mohammad Noor. Noor's nephew Sohail Zimaray was killed in an encounter with Taliban.
Freedom Corps, Soldiers of Hazaristan, Freedom and Democracy Front are some of the other groups highlighted by the VOA though little is known of their strength, organisation or leadership.
Yar Mohammad Dostum, the elder son of prominent Uzbek Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum is reported to have organised a new resistance group called as, “Wolf Unit.”
National Front for Free Afghanistan has released a video from the mountains of Kapisa Province
Turkestan Freedom Tigers attacked a Taliban checkpoint south of Sheberghan city in Jowzjan Province on February 7 as per research by Understanding War.
Abdul Ghani Alipur is an Hazara militia leader who has substantial resources and is also said to be organised a resistance in the central provinces.
As of now these groups are not expected to pose a major threat to the Taliban as they are far too disparate and their leaders divided separated geographically.
Taliban at present appear to be concentrating on Panjshir and Baghlan.
The spring summer campaigning period will demonstrate how effective the resistance movement to the Taliban is.