Small Wars Journal

Taliban, Russia Demand Foreign Troops Leave Afghanistan

Taliban, Russia Demand Foreign Troops Leave Afghanistan

Ayaz Gul – Voice of America

The Taliban and Russia have jointly called for the withdrawal of U.S.-led coalition troops from Afghanistan, with a top leader of the Islamist insurgent group denouncing the foreign presence in the country as a major obstacle to Afghan peace.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the political deputy of the Taliban, made the remarks in Moscow to a gathering of Russian and Afghan government personnel, as well as representatives from prominent political groups from the war-torn country.

Russia organized the meeting to mark the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Afghanistan.

“The Islamic Emirate [Taliban] is truly committed to peace but the first step is to remove obstacles in the way of peace, meaning the occupation of Afghanistan must come to an end,” Baradar said in rare public appearance and speech.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in his welcome address to the group urged that foreign forces leave Afghanistan. He underscored the importance of bilateral relations, saying Russia is ready to offer more help to Afghanistan to fight terrorist groups led by Islamic State and drug-trafficking networks.

“This conflict in Afghanistan has no military solution and the only way to settle this issue is to rely on diplomacy and politics. We believe all foreign military [forces] should be withdrawn from the country and the society of Afghanistan should unite in finding a solution,” the Russian foreign minister stressed.

“We believe that Afghanistan should stay united where all the ethnic groups can live peacefully. We hope that peace will settle in Afghanistan as soon as possible,” Lavrov added, saying that accelerated Afghan peace-building efforts recently initiated by Moscow are furthering the peace process.

Top Afghan candidates challenging President Ashraf Ghani in the upcoming presidential elections, former president, Hamid Karzai, and Afghan diplomats in Moscow, as well as the head of the official Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) tasked with promoting peace, were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting and delivered their own speeches.

In his address, the HPC chief, Karim Khalili, emphasized the need for agreeing to “a dignified and just mechanism” for ending years of bloodshed in Afghanistan.

Mullah Baradar

Mullah Baradar, who is heading a 14-member Taliban delegation, was the center of attention during Tuesday’s meeting in Moscow. He is known as a co-founder of the Islamist Taliban and is believed to have played a central role in organizing insurgent activities after the U.S.-led military invasion of Afghanistan 17-years ago.

Baradar was traveling through Pakistan in 2010 when American security operatives, together with local counterparts, arrested him in Karachi. The insurgent commander was then placed in Pakistani custody until late last year. At that point, Washington requested that Islamabad free Baradar to push a nascent process of negotiations that U.S. diplomats initiated with the Taliban late last fall to seek an end to the Afghan war.

Intra-Afghan Conference

Taliban and Afghan delegates also are scheduled to hold an intra-Afghan meeting on Wednesday to discuss ways to promote peace in their country.

The bilateral talks would mark the second time Taliban officials have met with Afghan opposition politicians in Russia. The first such interaction took place in February, but no government representatives were present because of objections by the insurgents.

It was not immediately known whether Khalili and other members of the HPC will be part of Wednesday’s intra-Afghan discussions because the Taliban refuse to engage in any peace talks with anyone associated with the U.S.-backed Kabul government.

“The delegation of Islamic Emirate [Taliban] will also hold closed-door meetings with senior officials of the Russian Federation,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

US-Taliban Talks

The meetings in Moscow come as months of direct peace negotiations between the United States and the Taliban appear to have slowed down, if not deadlocked, over the insurgents’ refusal to cease hostilities until all U.S.-led international forces withdraw from Afghanistan.

Washington has linked its troop withdrawal move to counterterrorism assurances by the Taliban, a comprehensive cease-fire and the insurgent group’s participation in a peace dialogue with the Afghan government and other groups to end years of hostilities.

The U.S.-led military invasion ousted the Taliban from power in late 2001 for sheltering al-Qaida leaders blamed for the 9/11 terrorist attacks on American cites. The Islamist group rejected the charges and has since retaken control or influences nearly half of the country, inflicting heavy casualties on American-backed and trained embattled Afghan security forces.


Q:  How to see the Russian/Taliban triumph in Afghanistan?

A:  As turnabout being fair play.


The U.S./Western role in Afghanistan, and indeed elsewhere in the world in the 1980s, this related to our strategies of containment and roll back of the Soviets and communism back then; the ultimate goal of such strategies being to cause the Soviets/the communists to:

a.  Abandon their the Soviet/communist way of life, way of governance, values, etc. -- and related expansionist activities -- and to cause them to:

b.  Adopt something resembling our way of life, our way of governance, our values, etc., in the place of same. 

Likewise today, the Russian role in Afghanistan (and indeed elsewhere in the world?), this relates to THEIR strategies of containment and roll back -- of the U.S./the West and market-democracy in this case -- the ultimate goal of which is to cause the U.S./the West to:

a.  Abandon (or at least downplay) our U.S./Western way of life, way of governance, values, etc. -- and related expansionist activities -- and to cause us to:

b.  Adopt (or at least accept as OK) something resembling the Russian way of life, the Russian way of governance, Russian values, etc., instead.  

Herein, much as with the rise of Reagan and Gorbachev during the Old Cold War -- likewise with rise of Putin and Trump in the post-Cold War -- one finds the goals of both of these such entities' (respectively, the U.S./the West's and the Russian's) containment and roll back strategies being realized/being fulfilled.

In this regard, and as relates to the current Russian containment and roll back effort consider, for example, the following:

BEGIN QUOTE of President Donald Trump:

"We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government, but we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties: to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation.”

“Strong sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures, and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect.”


Bottom Line Thought -- Based on the Above:

It was in Afghanistan, one might suggest, that the Soviets/the communists lost their portion of the Old Cold War.

(Which was, generally speaking, transformative and expansionist in nature.  From Hans Morgenthau's 1967 "To Intervene to Not to Intervene:"

"The United States and the Soviet Union face each other not only as two great powers which in the traditional ways compete for advantage. They also face each other as the fountainheads of two hostile and incompatible ideologies, systems of government and ways of life, each trying to expand the reach of its respective political values and institutions and to prevent the expansion of the other.")

Likewise it is in Afghanistan, it would seem, that the U.S./the West lost its portion of the Old Cold War.

(Albeit, 30 years later?)