December 17, 2022
The Afghan National Resistance Front (NRF) is irate some members of the international community continue to provide funding directly to the Taliban just as the movement is on a public torture and execution spree. Moreover, as these millions pour into Taliban coffers, the NRF has struggled to raise a dime from international backers.
Earlier this week, Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) said another $40 million in cash arrived purportedly for humanitarian relief from a source the bank has yet to confirm. The bank, which tweeted photos of the cash on pallets, said it was the second package that had arrived this week and is among several similar shipments the bank has received in recent months. At the end of November, the Khaama press news agency, citing DAB records, said the bank had received 48 packages of cash since August of 2021 totaling $1.67 billion.
Some see the cash injection as at odds with promises made by international donors – including the U.S. – to circumvent the Taliban regime in the delivery of humanitarian aid.
The latest tranche comes as the Taliban are conducting public executions and beatings at a record pace, many carried out in stadiums in the presence of regime officials. A group of UN human rights rapporteurs on Friday released a statement urging the Taliban to halt the harsh public punishment.
“Since 18 November 2022, the de facto authorities have reportedly carried out floggings of over 100 individuals, both women and men, in several provinces including Takhar, Logar, Laghman, Parwan and Kabul,” the UN experts said. “Each were given between 20 and 100 lashes for alleged crimes including theft, ‘illegitimate’ relationships or violating social behavior codes.”
The UN special rapporteurs said the Taliban policy violated “universal principles” against torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.
Amrullah Saleh, former Afghan vice president and one of the leaders of the NRF, took to Twitter to express outrage over the ceaseless stream of funding into Taliban hands.
“Let’s wait for the next shipment of US$ 40M+ regular empowerment funds to help Talibs consolidate the clerical fascism so that floggings & torture can be conducted in more spectacular ways,” Saleh said in a tweet on Friday.
In the same post, Saleh tied the situation to the Doha withdrawal agreement negotiated by the Americans, which handed power to the Taliban, suggesting perhaps that Washington bears some responsibility for these human rights violations, all of which were very foreseeable.
“One wonders why there is no reference to the shameful Doha deal in the UN statements,” Saleh added.
NRF: A CAUSE WITHOUT A BACKER
The NRF has lobbied the U.S. and other external actors to fund the anti-Taliban resistance, although it has also declared that it will not wait for permission from foreign actors to continue waging its battle against the regime.
“In the past year we have shown we are able to survive without support and to even expand areas of resistance,” NRF foreign relations chief, Ali Maisam Nazary, told Suhasini Haidar of The Hindu in a piece published on December 11.
Nazary, despite his bravado, has been strenuously fighting an uphill battle against apathy and indifference from leaders in the United States, Iran, the Gulf states, and across Central Asia, Haidar pointed out.
Nazary also said the NRF, which has grown from 600 to about 5,000 since last August, is now receiving a surge of support inside Afghanistan because of the regime’s increasingly harsh decrees and punishments. The NRF especially puts faith in the younger generation – those who lived through non-Taliban rule – rising up and joining their cause.
“They [Taliban] may have geography and power today, but we have legitimacy that comes from popular support,” Nazary added.
Haidar, however, made some painfully truthful observations about the lack of external backing. The NRF, led by Ahmad Massoud, the son of the legendary Muj commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, might find it especially hard to raise funds because the conditions globally are not right.
“Unlike his father, who received support from India, the U.K., France, and other countries, Massoud Jr. receives practically no international assistance today,” Haidar wrote. “In a conflict-weary world, there is little financial support for armed groups anywhere, and given the NATO and the U.S.’s recent humiliating pullout from Afghanistan, less appetite for a plan that involves any military support.”
Haidar also said the NRF, made up mostly of Tajiks, must reach out to more than its support base in order to realistically challenge the Taliban’s staying power.
B.R. Muthukumar, a former Indian envoy to Tajikistan who helped funnel money to the Northern Alliance, expressed skepticism to Haidar about NRF prospects of getting any support from New Delhi, citing corruption and possible divisions among the leadership team.
“They are living on the legend of Ahmad Shah Massoud but they are not the Northern Alliance of Massoud Sr.,” Muthukumar said.