Pakistani jihadist Noor Wali Mehsud, a top dog of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) sees US and NATO troops withdrawal from Afghanistan as “victory of entire Muslims”. Appearing on CNN interview for the first time ever, Mehsud said their relations with the Afghan Taliban are based on brotherhood, sympathy, and Islamic principles. Although experts on TTP affairs believe the interview was arranged through intermediaries somewhere along the Pak-Afghan border, Mehsud appeared in the interview from Pakistan.
During the interview, Noor Wali Mehsud said, the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan was a “victory of the Afghan Taliban” which also was a “victory for the entire Muslim people in the world”.
Meaning, the Taliban and other jihadist groups are already feeling as victors. And most alarming fact is, such sentiment of being victorious has been on rise when nearly half of the Afghan districts have already fallen to the Taliban jihadists.
Earlier, US CENTCOM Commander General Frank McKenzie had said that the Taliban are pretending their victory is inevitable which he believes is not the case indeed.
The Pakistani Taliban’s leader though claims their core objectives to be fighting Pakistani Security Forces and gaining control over the Pakistani tribal regions, they have too conducted heinous attacks in Afghanistan close to the border with Pakistan.
Their bloodiest attack in Afghanistan was that on a base in 2009 in which seven CIA officers and contractors were killed in Khost province bordering Pakistan.
According to analysts, Taliban’s so-called victory claim in Afghanistan will result in a massive refugee crisis, while there also is possibility of civil war in the country.
While Taliban jihadists are gradually expanding their presence in Afghanistan, a number of countries, such as Iran and Pakistan are looking for helping their allies in the country in gaining influence in the country.
According to media, reports, on July 7, Iran’s political leaders hosted talks between Taliban and Afghan government representatives in Tehran. While Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif used the meeting to celebrate the US departure from Afghanistan, he also warned that continuing clashes between Taliban fighters and the Afghan government would be costly. With the American military exit from Afghanistan due to be completed by Aug. 31, Iranian policymakers are strategizing about their future approach toward Afghanistan. They face a difficult set of decisions, including how they will balance their country’s strong ties to Afghanistan’s minority Hazara community against Iran’s diplomatic dance with the Taliban and the Afghan government.
In June this year, Esmail Qaani, commander of Quds Force, the wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), visited Albu, Syrian border town to rally a group of Shi’ite fighters. Most significant part of Qaani’s trip is his meeting with the members of Fatemiyoun Division, an Iran-backed proxy force whose foot soldiers are Afghans from the Shiite Hazara community. Since the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan, Iran has become ambitious of establishing its absolute control in the country and bring it under the flag of Shi’ite caliphate. It may be mentioned here that, while fighters of the Fatemiyoun Division remain active in Syria, so far they have been sidelined in Afghanistan. But analysts say, that could change. The Fatemiyoun constitute a small but potent force with longstanding and extensive ties to Iran and could prove useful to Iranian officials as they craft their Afghan policy, especially if the Taliban continue to press their military advantage.
The Fatemiyoun pale in comparison to the Taliban both in numbers and capacity. But they could prove either to be a lever of influence for Iran, if the Taliban and Afghan government do ultimately cut a deal, or a political liability, if an all-out civil war ensues in Afghanistan and the Taliban continue to target the country’s Shiite Hazara community.
Meanwhile, China, which also is showing willingness of establishing cordial relations with Taliban has pledged to support Afghanistan’s reconstruction under Taliban rule, only if Taliban will cut-off its relations with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a radical Islamic militancy group blamed by Beijing for attacks in its Xinjiang region and providing support to Uyghur jihadist groups.
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