Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tajik insurgents

Those with a passing familiarity with Afghanistan will know that Tajiks are the second-ranked (in both size and status) ethnic group there. It is also well known that the Taliban are almost entirely composed of ethnic Pashtuns, the dominant group in the country. It is thus somewhat surprising to learn that at least one newly-formed ethnic Tajik insurgent group sees itself as allies of the Taliban.

From Al Jazeera:

Afghan mayor turns Taliban leader
Akbari says he will not negotiate with the government until foreign troops leave

OCTOBER 17 - The former mayor of Afghanistan's Herat province is now the most powerful local Taliban commander.

Ghullam Yahya Akbari told Al Jazeera that he will not negotiate with the Afghan government as long as foreign troops are on Afghan soil.

Given exclusive access to one of his 20 mountain bases hidden deep inside rugged terrain that Akbari says were also used to fight the Russians, Al Jazeera's Qais Azimy found a group of at least 60 well-armed Taliban fighters.

Akbari's steely resolve to fight foreign forces comes amid reports of many soldiers defecting to the Taliban. Many are unhappy with the "un-Islamic" ways of the foreign troops...

The former mayor is not interested in peace talks and said he would even turn his guns against Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, if he negotiated with the Afghan government.

"I do not believe that Mullah Omar would do that but if they sit with the Afghan government and negotiate then for us they will be like all the other members of the government and we'll continue our jihad," Akbari said...

Twenty Afghan members of parliament have meanwhile gone on strike in protest at the worsening security situation in Herat, and over what they say is the government's inability to fix it. (link)
See the Al Jazeera interview here.

Akbari is identified as a Tajik in an earlier Al Jazeera interview with him:

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