The Taliban-Haqqani regime is cracking a bit under its own incompetence and brutality. The fissures, that their Pakistani backers have especially been worried about, are starting to enlarge under the food crisis, human rights catastrophe, armed opposition, and poor leadership skills of the regime. The Taliban-Haqqani network are in a race against time now. They must try to gain international recognition, force acceptance of the regime upon the Afghan people, and get all of their terrorist factions to fall into line before multiple pressures rip them apart.

The Taliban-Haqqani regime knows how to fail, they have lost control of the terrorists in Afghanistan before, and were plagued by a large unified opposition force that would not go away. Those problems led to their downfall in 2001. Now the Taliban-Haqqani seniors and their masters in Pakistan are trying to figure out how to avoid the same fate again.

The first shoe is dropping

A major blow the Taliban-Haqqani regime this week occurred in Sar-e-Pul province. In Balkhab district a mostly Hazara, Uzbek and Tajik population is calling for more independence and power. They are gathering behind the Taliban leader Mawlawi Mehdi, a Hazara, who is standing up to the Pashtun dominated Kabul leadership.

The loss of a North-Western district may seem small to the outside world, but following the long-standing and growing Panjshir resistance efforts, another non-Pashtun leader also standing up to the regime may be a sign of things to come. This worried the Taliban-Haqqani leaders enough to send large loyal Taliban fighter formations to the area to surround the upstart. The internal squabble has now gone beyond a war of words. The conclusion of this event is something the Western press is not covering, but should be watching.

Racing to indoctrinate more fighters

Racing against their destruction, the Taliban-Haqqani leaders are implementing the Pakistan-radicalization-model that has served them so well since the 1980s. There has been a push to quickly start running re-education centers to try to inculcate Khawarij (violent Islamism) ideology into the young Afghan boys and men. These new “schools” are being opened and filled at the same time the regime is trying to un-educate Afghan girls by closing their schools and stopping their instruction.

The Taliban-Haqqani leaders were all brainwashed into a hatred of anyone that is not like them, and unswerving loyalty to their seniors in so called seminaries or madrassas in Pakistan funded by Khawarij ideology supporters globally. The regime knows that their survival depends on how quickly they can build up their loyalist numbers, while simultaneously hunting down and killing any opposition. Mis-teaching the Islamic concepts of Jihad, or struggle, are key to the radicalizing process.

The terror regime needs a public friend

There is another factor that the Taliban-Haqqani regime is counting on to strengthen their hold on Afghanistan, that is external recognition of their terror network as a government. They know they can count on Pakistan to support them, and probably Qatar and one or two other Arab states. The big get for the regime is recognition from Russia and/or China. China is quickly securing lopsided contracts to rob Afghans of their natural resources, and that will likely be enough to lock-in China recognition. Russia, reeling in the world due to their disaster in Ukraine, is also likely to offer recognition to gain one more ally in Asia. Russia’s long-time Afghan envoy and current Special ambassador to the country publicly stated that they would be willing to recognize the Taliban-Haqqani regime as a government whether any other nations had done so or not. Russia could be the first large nation to aid the T-H terror regime in their ultimate quest.

Diplomats appear adrift

Afghans were incredulous this week then the UN Envoy to Afghanistan, Deb Lyons, met publicly with a senior Haqqani terror network leader who holds the key internal security position in the regime. It was not so much that the UN was giving the regime yet another free propaganda photo, it was that the headline was captured as a UN leader asking a terrorist leader to crackdown on terrorism. The absurdity of this diplomacy technique is not lost on Afghans.

UN Mission Tweet:

“Today’s farewell meeting of UNAMA head @DeborahLyonsUN with Al Hajj Sirajuddin Haqqani @moiafghanistan focused on counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, strengthening cooperation for humanitarian operations & response to the recent cholera/watery diarrhea outbreak in #Afghanistan.”

Since March 11, 2008, Sirajuddin Haqqani Jalaluddin of the HQN has been a named terrorist by the US Government under Executive Order 13224. He has a bounty on his head from the FBI

Diplomats can help Afghans to break the tyrannical and brutal hold of the Taliban-Haqqani regime by following a few simple rules. First, reinstate individual sanctions on Taliban-Haqqani leaders. Second, avoid giving terrorists propaganda material by having public meetings with them. Third, help Afghans that believe in human rights for all and in democratic principles to organize themselves, pressure the regime, and plan for the future. Finally, while doing the previous, diplomats and humanitarians must increase humanitarian assistance to Afghan-led initiatives that can increase education opportunities and food creation and distribution across the country. Afghans now realize they must get themselves out of this crisis, so why not empower Afghans who are working to do so. Groups like Aseel App who have created an uber-eats in Afghanistan to help donors feed starving families, and leaders like Pashtana Durrani who is continuing to run schools for girls in Afghanistan through Learn are a logical place to start for USAID or the WFP.

What can Afghans do to hasten the demise of the regime?

No one knows when or if the Taliban-Haqqani regime will ultimately crack and collapse. What is known, is that to gain rapid international support for a future government focused on freedom for all Afghans and full protections of justice and equality for the citizens, Afghans must plan ahead. Afghans are organizing right now, but they are struggling to overcome the unity issues that are so deftly manipulated by PakISI and the terror regime. Afghan groups that can start to exploit Taliban-Haqqani fissures, and simultaneously plan for next government, will recruit Allies and can finally start to weaken Pakistan’s intervention in Afghanistan. Much work remains undone.

 

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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.