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Meanwhile, the Fight Goes On in Afghanistan

This month marks one year since the fall [1] of Kabul [2] to the Taliban. While there was some interest when Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed, most Americans seemed to mark the anniversary (if they did at all) with fleeting regret about how the war “ended.”

Yes, I used the scare quotes, and for good reason. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the war in Afghanistan did not end just because Republicans and Democrats wanted it to end. Resistance [3] to the Taliban resurgence continued into last autumn [4], last winter, and all the way to today. The forces of freedom call themselves The National Resistance Front of Afghanistan. As their Foreign Relations chief noted in Foreign Affairs [5]

At least one force remains in the country that seeks to beat back the Taliban, fight terrorist groups such as al Qaeda [6] and the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS), and restore democracy. The National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF) is the most capable organized and armed opposition in the country. It is led by Ahmad Massoud, the son of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, the veteran leader from the struggle against the Soviets and fierce opponent of the Taliban who was assassinated by al Qaeda in 2001, two days before the 9/11 [7] attacks.

The NRF drew from the very Afghans who fought with America against the Taliban to fill their ranks.

The military wing of the NRF is made up of the remnants of Afghanistan’s former armed forces, who were trained, advised, and funded by the United States and NATO over the past two decades.

Thousands of Afghan soldiers came to Panjshir in August 2021 to rally to Massoud and continue the struggle against the Taliban and its terrorist allies.

While the hasty departure of deposed President Ashraf Ghani let a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, his own Vice President [8] has joined the NRF. More importantly for those of us outside Afghanistan, the Taliban are returning to their old ways.

The Taliban have allowed regional and international terrorist groups to set up base in Afghanistan. Thousands of foreign fighters from the Middle East, South Asia, and Central Asia, speaking languages unknown to Afghans, are living throughout the country under Taliban protection. These militants are armed with the weapons and equipment left behind by NATO [9], worth more than $7 billion, in the chaos of the U.S. withdrawal.

They threaten not just the stability of Afghanistan but that of the broader region. The Taliban have handed over the security of the Afghan-Tajik border to the militant groups Jamaat Ansarullah and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Recently, with the assistance of the Taliban, terrorists from Tajikistan formed a group called the Taliban Movement of Tajikistan that aims to establish its own Islamic emirate in Central Asia. The recent U.S. drone attack that killed Zawahiri in the heart of Kabul shows the deep and intertwined relationship between the Taliban and terrorist groups such as al Qaeda. Despite all these distressing developments, the NRF stands alone.

The NRF should not stand alone. Like the Northern Alliance in the 1990s, they are battling some of the most virulently anti-American and anti-democratic terrorists in the Eastern Hemisphere. They are the latest Afghan allies saving us from our own willful ignorance.

The free people of Afghanistan were dealt a massive blow when America abandoned them, but they haven’t given up the fight, and they deserve our help. They are not fighting merely for themselves, but for all of us.