Updated Aug 19, 2021 - World

Leaders in Taliban holdout look to revive Northern Alliance

Vice President of Afghanistan Amrullah Saleh speaks during a function at the Afghan presidential palace in Kabul on August 4

Afghanistan's then-Vice President Amrullah Saleh at a function at the presidential palace in Kabul on Aug. 4. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

Opposition leaders who've fled to Afghanistan's last holdout against the Taliban are looking to launch an "armed resistance under the banner of the Northern Alliance," which helped the U.S. oust the Taliban in 2001, per AP.

Why it matters: The Taliban has a strong grip on the country, shooting at protesters in three cities this week who tried to raise the Afghan national flag. It confirmed on Thursday that it would not govern as a democracy.

  • Social media posts in the Panjshir Valley, north of Kabul in the Hindu Kush, by regional leader Ahmad Massoud and others show this region has not fallen to the Taliban.
  • Ousted Vice President Amrullah Saleh declared from the Panjshir Valley on Tuesday that he was the "legitimate caretaker president" of Afghanistan due to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's fleeing to the United Arab Emirates.

The big picture: This opposition group is backed by "a corps of loyal fighters" that is resisting the Taliban, the New York Times notes.

  • People in the region resisted Russian fighters in the 1980s and also the Taliban in the 1990s.
  • Massoud is the son of Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was killed in 2001.

Of note: Saleh wrote a Washington Post op-ed on Wednesday calling for aid including weapons to help the group in its battle against the Taliban.

  • Saleh also in a tweet expressed "support and appreciation for the courageous and patriotic movement of the honorable" protesters who raised the national flag in defiance of the new government in three Afghan cities on Wednesday — which saw the Taliban respond with gunfire, killing at least two people in Jalalabad.
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