Thursday, August 26, 2021

Chaos, Not Taliban, Main Danger in Afghanistan, Moscow Military Expert Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 25 – It is a mistake to see the Taliban and even a Taliban government as the main dangers emanating from Afghanistan, Ivan Konovalov says. The main danger is chaos, something likely because the Taliban is far from a well-organized and disciplined force and is far from being in control of the situation.

            Other groups, including the resistance in the North, are as important or even more so, the head of the Moscow Center for Strategic Thought and a longtime specialist on Afghanistan says; and if these various groups clash, the entire country will descend into a war of all against all, a bigger threat to Central Asia than the Taliban (

            “One must understand that [the Taliban] is not monolithic. There are at a minimum three centers for taking decisions within the unit.” They are not always in agreement “and therefore we must be prepared for anything.” That means that “the main danger in Afghanistan is not the Taliban but chaos.”

            If a civil war breaks out with new force, and what is happening in the Pandzhir valley suggests that it will, then the entire country will soon be without anyone in effective control. And groups not under the control of the Taliban may threaten Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries even if the Taliban promise not to.

            Moscow commentator Aleksandr Khamchikhin agrees. He says that Moscow must not be deceived when one part of the Taliban makes promises of cooperation because other parts of the Taliban and other centers of power in Afghanistan may render those promises meaningless. And that goes in particular for refugees who aren’t going to be bound by Taliban rules.

            Konovalov says that many often think of power in Afghanistan being divided between the Taliban and the remnants of the former government. But that is simply wrong. There are the Tajiks in the North around Masud “and don’t forget about the Uzbeks, Hazarites, Turkmens, Aymaks, Kyrgyz, and Nuristanis. In Afghanistan, all these are “mixed together.”

            In that country, there are “a multitude of nationalities and an enormous number of tribes, and all are in the most complicated relationships with each other. Without a strong central power, this will lead to a war of all against all, and then the conflict simply will spread throughout the entire region.”

            There is no evidence that the Taliban can provide such a government and so focusing on it alone is a possibly fatal mistake


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