Afghan power play: Saleh warns world not to engage with Taliban

Days after the Taliban takeover, Amrullah Saleh, former Vice-President of The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and now the self-proclaimed Acting President, has asked the world not to engage with terror groups and underlined that he will “never be under one ceiling with the Taliban.”

“Afghanistan is too big for Pakistan to swallow and too big for Talibs to govern,” said Mr Saleh.  He also urged the nations to not to engage with terror groups, to respect rule of law and not violence. In another tweet on August 19, Mr Saleh expressed support for those who have stood by the national flag the democratic symbol of the Afghan state. “I express my respect, support and appreciation for the courageous and patriotic movement of the honorable people of my country,” said Saleh, who is trying to position himself as the fulcrum of resistance against the Taliban.

On August 17, Mr Saleh claimed to be the president of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, according to the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, as President Ashraf Ghani left the country. He also said “I am consulting with all leaders of the country to strengthen this position.’ The Afghan leader urged everyone to ‘JOIN THE RESISTANCE’ after the POTUS address on Afghanistan where he blamed the Fall of Kabul on the Afghanistan political Leaders and the collapse of Afghan Military.

 Saleh’s current strategy

The resistance against  the Taliban by Saleh is not something new. “I will never betray the soul and legacy of my hero Ahmad Shah Masoud,” he said.  Mr Saleh belongs to the Panjshir Valley in the North of Kabul, approx. 200km from the Tajikistan border. This Valley has traditionally been anti-Taliban, and even fought and defeated them in 1990s.

Mr Saleh, who was a member of the anti-taliban Northern alliance during 1990s, later rose to prominence when he became the head of Afghanistan Intelligence Agency in early 2000s. In 2017, Saleh became a part of the Ghani Cabinet and consequently became the Interior minister in 2018.

Mr Saleh’s present location is believed to be in the Panjshir Valley, which is not in control of Taliban at present. He is currently believed to be in contact with various anti-Taliban forces, including the son of the Ahmad Shah Masoud, Ahmad Massoud. In an interview to Atlantic Council, Ahmad Masoud said that he is not willing to accept an afghan government marked by ‘extremism and fundamentalism’. Saleh was a follower of Masoud’s father during the 1990s.

The defiant Afghan leader is working on opposing the Taliban and has been trying to gather the remaining Afghan forces, as well as support from the regional players as well as USA. Afghan Ambassador to Tajikistan Zahir Aghbar also emphasized that Mr. Amrullah Saleh will be the president of Afghanistan.

(Abhishek Sharma contributed inputs for this article)

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