For the first time in decades, the future of Afghanistan is in their hands. Afghans have the choice to keep their republic and their hard-earned human rights, or revert to the tyrannical ways of the Taliban regime. So far, the Afghan people have overwhelmingly chosen to fight the Taliban proxy force and retain their current government. They have backed the ANDSF as their heroes in this contest.

Bullies Want to Keep their Prey Weak

This worries Pakistan, Iran, Russia and other enemies of Afghanistan. They want a pliant and weak Afghanistan; one they can bully and steal from. Those enemies will use any means to keep Afghanistan unstable. The easiest way they have found is via Taliban terrorism. The other way to keep Afghanistan unstable is by pitting Afghans against each other and keeping them from being united.

This week, enemies of Afghanistan are staging a multi-front effort to cause panic and division among the Afghan elites across the country. One such case is a rumor that a world super-power has secretly made a deal with the Taliban to handover the government in the next 30 days. This is not only false, it is impossible. No nation has leverage over the Afghan government or power to go against the wishes of the Afghan people. None. Afghans are in charge of their future, period.

The enemies of Afghanistan will use rumors and carefully placed lies to scare Afghans into hopelessness and to cause infighting. They will feed these rumors and lies to trusted Afghan leaders and former government officials because they know the lies will spread and be believed. Afghans are a trusting and good people, the enemies of Afghanistan will exploit this as a weakness.

Afghans Have to Fight Back

Afghans must avoid believing in fantastical conspiracies and sharing those lies with other Afghans. If you spread the propaganda of the Taliban and its supporters, you are doing the Taliban’s work for them. Afghanistan’s enemies count on good Afghans to accidentally help the Taliban/Pakistan team.

This type of activity will increase in the coming months as the Taliban, their terrorist partners, and the nations that support those terrorists watch the Taliban taking heavy losses daily on the battlefield. This is information operations 101. The enemy is losing on the ground so they are going to try to weaken the Afghans internally. The ANDSF are clearing the Taliban out of districts at a rapid rate and killing Taliban at about 1,000 per week. This is an unsustainable casualty rate for the Taliban/Pakistani team recruiting and training the Taliban.

The other major reason Afghans will see an uptick in information operations (IO) aimed to divide and weaken them is that outside nations have little leverage over the Afghan government right now.

The leadership team of President Ghani, 1VP Saleh, and Minister Mohammadi are strong and will not bow to the wishes of any Afghan neighbors. I have known these three men since 2002, shared meals with them, and visited their homes letting them explain Afghanistan to my bosses and me. They are patriots and that scares Pakistan, Iran, and Russia. The Afghan leaders are not going to give-in to either Taliban violence or interfering nations.

Rumor Mill Brings Division

The final reason for the uptick in conspiracy spreading is to cause division between Afghans and the large NATO-plus coalition that is funding and supporting so many government institutions. The enemies of Afghanistan want Afghans to lose trust in the US, Germany, Italy, France, Britain and so many good friends of Afghanistan. The enemies of Afghanistan will use every visit by friendly-nation leaders to South Asia or Qatar to start rumors that NATO nations are abandoning or betraying Afghanistan.

The truth is the opposite. I spoke with Ambassador Stefano Pontecorvo this month about the NATO plans to increase their diplomatic mission size to ensure they have enough people to partner with Afghanistan’s security sector, and ensure the ANDSF never falters and has everything it needs to win its battles. The NATO-led coalition is fully behind the Afghan people, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the ANDSF.

Beware of the conspiracies, rumors, and lies being spread to tear Afghans apart and isolate them from friendly nations. Afghans must talk to their friends constantly and ask them the hard questions about any anxieties they feel. Afghans must also clearly identify their enemies externally and internally and better sort facts from lies.

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Jason spent 23 years in USG service conducting defense, diplomacy, intelligence, and education missions globally. Now he teaches, writes, podcasts, and speaks publicly about Islam, foreign affairs, and national security. He is a member of the Military Writers Guild, works with numerous non-profits and aids conflict resolution in Afghanistan.