Exiled Afghan warlords form resistance council to fight Taliban

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Former Afghan warlords and exiled politicians announced the creation of a High Council of National Resistance against the Taliban on Thursday, calling on Taliban to form a more inclusive government or risk civil war.

Since the Taliban surged back to power on the heels of a hasty withdrawal of US troops last year, there have been only limited and sporadic attempts to resist their rule.

But on Tuesday 40 political figures met in Ankara by invitation of former Afghan vice-president and warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, who found refuge in Turkey after Kabul fell in August.

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Participants said their council should pave the way for the “liberation” of Afghanistan, the group said in a statement shared with AFP on Thursday.

“We demand the Taliban end their destruction and set the table for talks to find solutions to the current problems of Afghanistan,” they said.

Taliban “should learn from the experiences of history that no group can have a stable government through acts of force and pressure,” the council added.

Founding members of the council include former Balkh province governor Atta Mohammad Noor, leader of the Shia Hazara community Mohammad Mohaqiq, and Ahmad Wali Massoud of the National Resistance Front (NRF), the main group currently waging an armed insurgency against the government.

Long-time Taliban opponent and warlord Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf is also a signatory.

The council’s aim is “to try to solve the problems of Afghanistan through talks,” a spokesman for Dostum told AFP.

“The Taliban should accept that they can’t run the government or rule alone,” otherwise “Afghanistan will experience civil war once again,” he said.

At the beginning of the week, the Taliban announced the creation of a commission that would contact politicians in exile.

Taliban officials have said they hope to convene an assembly of citizens, tribal leaders and religious heads to discuss the topic of “national unity.”

However, after making promises for an inclusive government, Taliban in September formed an executive comprised exclusively of Taliban members, and almost entirely from the ethnic Pashtun group.

The new rulers in Kabul are already facing attacks from the NRF led by Ahmad Massoud - son of late commander Ahmad Shah Massoud - who has stepped up assaults in his former Panjshir valley stronghold.

In its statement, the council said it considers armed resistance to the Taliban “legitimate.”

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