Oct 27, 2021 - World

Afghan resistance ups its U.S. lobbying

Photo illustration of Ahmad Massoud with the Capitol dome

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

The Afghan resistance is boosting its D.C. lobbying operation, records show.

Why it matters: U.S. financial and military aid could be crucial to efforts to oppose Taliban rule in Afghanistan. But opposition forces must convince the Biden administration to stay engaged to some degree in a conflict from which the president is determined to extricate the United States.

What's new: A leading opposition group, the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, has registered to lobby U.S. policymakers, signaling it recognizes the need to win over key officials in Washington.

  • A newly formed U.S. nonprofit arm, incorporated in D.C. last week, filed paperwork under the Foreign Agents Registration Act on Tuesday.
  • It told the Justice Department it anticipates "lobbying the government, international organizations and other political entities."
  • The registration comes about six weeks after the National Resistance Front enlisted the Sonoran Policy Group to "provide strategic advisory services."
  • Ali Nazary, the Massoud deputy leading its U.S. advocacy effort, did not respond to questions from Axios about the aid or commitments it hopes to secure.

The big picture: The National Resistance Front is run by Ahmad Massoud, who's tried to marshal military resistance to the Taliban since the U.S. withdrawal in August.

  • Its FARA registration this week says the National Resistance Front seeks to be "the protector of America's 20-year investment in Afghanistan and the force to rid the country of intolerance and terrorism."
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) have called on President Biden to recognize Massoud, as well as fellow National Resistance Front co-founder Amrullah Saleh, as "the legitimate government representatives of Afghanistan."
  • The Biden administration has shown no signs it will do so.

Be smart: The Taliban captured the Afghan province of Panjshir last month, dealing a critical blow to Massoud-led efforts in that resistance stronghold — and making U.S. aid critical to any remaining military resistance.

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