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Afghan strongmen join forces to push ‘arrogant’ Taliban for share of power

Unlike their previous period in power before 2001, the predominantly Pashtun Taliban did seek support from Tajiks, Uzbeks and other minorities as they prepared their offensive last month.

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“The Taliban at this point are very, very arrogant, because they just won militarily. But what we assume [is] that they know the risk of ruling the way they did before,” Noor said, referring to the previous Taliban regime’s exclusion of minority ethnic groups.

‘SURRENDER OUT OF QUESTION’

Despite a commitment to negotiations, Noor said there was a “huge risk” that the talks could fail, leading the group to already prepare for an armed resistance against the Taliban.

“Surrender is out of the question for us,” said Noor, the youngest member of the erstwhile Afghan government’s team that held talks with the Taliban in Qatar.

Ahmad Massoud, leader of Afghanistan’s last major outpost of anti-Taliban resistance, last week also said he hoped talks with the Taliban would lead to an inclusive government, failing which his forces were ready to fight.

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It remains uncertain how much popular support is actually enjoyed by leaders like Atta Noor, widely accused of corruption, and Dostum, accused of multiple acts of torture and brutality, and described in a US State Department report as a “quintessential warlord”. Both leaders deny the accusations.

The Taliban, already a formidable military force, are now in possession of an estimated 2000 armoured vehicles and up to 40 aircraft, among other arms left behind by fleeing Afghan forces, potentially bolstering their firepower.

Still, Noor said the Taliban would not be able to hold out against a popular resistance.

“History has shown that no one in Afghanistan can rule by force, it is impossible,” the Western-educated politician said, “No matter how much support they have from international community, it will fail.”

Reuters

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