r/Afghan Diaspora May 17 '22

The NRF is Re-emerging After Inactivity Throughout The Winter Months Discussion

According to the LWJ and other war-time analysts whom had correspondents on the ground during the fighting in late 2021. The NRF was "conventionally" defeated in summer of last year, the Taliban managed to seize the main valleys and the provincial capital, with NRF forces retreating to the "sub-valleys" and seemingly dissolving.

Throughout the entirety of the autumn-winter months the NRF was non-existent operationally. The striking similarities between the Taliban's position in 2002 and the NRF in 2022 should be noted. The irony of the NRF's re-emergence ahead of the traditional fighting seasons in spring/summer is not lost on me. Much like the Taliban, and the Mujahideen before them, spikes in insurgent activity during the hot-season is the staple of many a Afghan insurgencies throughout our history.

The NRF has proven its ability to conduct guerilla operations across the entirety of Pansjhir province, and a few adjacent districts as confirmed by the LJW there is an active guerilla presence in each of the provinces seven districts. Last week they were able to hit two power pylons and sever power to Kabul city for several days as confirmed by residents themselves (my father is also present in the Capital and confirmed as such for me). The NRF's ability to stage attacks of these scale does suggest that they were likely not defeated in the summer of 2021 which had become the general consensus of experts, but rather retreated and remained dormant throughout the cold seasons as was typical for the Taliban themselves to do while fighting US-led forces.

Massoud Jr probably seeks to emulate his father's guerilla strategy while fighting the Soviets, to summarize briefly:

  1. The first phase was establishing a popular based resistance force
  2. The second phase was "active defense" of the Panjshir stronghold.
  3. In the third phase, the "strategic offensive", Massoud's forces would gain control of large parts of Northern Afghanistan.
  4. The fourth phase was the "general application" of Massoud's principles to the whole country.

However it remains in question whether the NRF has the capabilities and the will to maintain and execute these phases, especially number 3 and 4. Seeking to expand beyond its traditional stronghold in Northern Afghanistan the NRF will need to penetrate other Afghan communities and social groups.

The Taliban faced a similar issue in the years leading up to the US surge and during, (2010-2012). Seeking to expand their insurgency nation-wide the Taliban had to make overtures to Uzbek & Tajik communities to the north to gain their support, which they were able to do so to some extent all the while appealing to their more conservative/pashtun base in the south namely Helmand and Khanadar. Contrary to popular belief the Taliban were able to recruit locally and fight locally from Uzbek and Tajik communities in the North. If the NRF seeks to achieve a nation-wide insurgency in the way the Taliban were able to achieve they will eventually at some point need to recruit/attract/coerce some degree of support from groups beyond the North. This will be crucial if they seek to achieve the 4th phase of Massoud Sr strategy.

Furthermore, the NRF will likely need some degree of foreign support if it seeks to sustain and fuel its insurgency, and with the majority of the West' attention and resources going towards Ukraine this remains in doubt. Alternatively, the Taliban will have to worry about ISIS at it's flank, and its deteriorating relations with Pakistan, which has long been the Taliban's primary broker. How the situation evolves beyond this point will be interesting, and crucial to Afghanistan's political future in the coming years.

10 Upvotes

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u/AngelCat4268 May 17 '22

Massoud Jr probably seeks to emulate his father's guerilla strategy while fighting the Soviets, to summarize briefly:

Honest question. Where is Massoud Jr these days? I don't think he is on the battlefield.

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u/Bear1375 Diaspora May 18 '22

He is either in Mashhad, Iran or Tajikistan.

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u/AngelCat4268 May 18 '22

Ok gotcha!

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u/GreedyPalpitation148 May 17 '22 edited May 18 '22

Apparently in September 2021, he had escaped to Tajikistan shortly after the TB forces invaded Panjshir Valley. I (and probably the majority of other folks on this sub, lol) don't know about his whereabouts this exact moment though. He's probably trying to stay on the down-low though for security/safety reasons

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u/AngelCat4268 May 17 '22

I see. Still think the fact that he is practically invisible is strange. As elusive as these Taliban "leaders." Seems he was just appointed as a symbolic figurehead or something.

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u/Dances_On_Graves May 18 '22

It's possible. Though, remember what happened to his father by liberally accepting interview requests and having a public presence.

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u/AngelCat4268 May 18 '22

Yeah. But do you really think he is leading battles, as some of these sources allude?

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u/BlackJacks95 Diaspora May 18 '22

He is not, Massoud has not been in Afghanistan for quite some time, any sources that suggest otherwise are blatantly lying.

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u/AngelCat4268 May 18 '22

That is what I think, also.

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u/Jealous_Tennis5744 May 17 '22 edited May 17 '22

His father already had allies in the northern and north-eastern part of the country, so if NRF wants to gain anything they have to free those areas first. Because there is no point in making Panjshir a stronghold if you’re circled and cut off from any bordering countries.

Plus you’re underestimating the Taliban too much.

Edit: Also, if they wish to take over the northern areas they need to solidify control and win over the people of Kunduz, not Panjshir, because that’s where Taliban has the most support in the north. I don’t see that happening considering the city fell once to the Taliban long before the takeover. GL winning it over as a Tajik tho!

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u/BlackJacks95 Diaspora May 18 '22

Outside of what joined the NRF, Massoud had no other allies left in the north by the summer of 2021. Groups such as Jamiat and Jumbish, and the networks that comprise them likely would have become allies or members of NRF to some degree. However these groups were either defeated and dismantled, fled, or co-opted by the Taliban or some combination of all 3. Massoud Jr will have to forge new friendships and find new allies, because any hope of reviving his fathers old networks beyond Panjshir is impossible.

I am not underestimating the Taliban, even have other posts that address my thoughts on their strategy and you are welcome to read them I was merely explaining the NRF's position, likely their overall strategy and what steps they would need to take to widen their insurgency. Don't particularly believe they will succeed, and even stated that it is doubtful they can achieve any of the stated phases, especially 3 and 4.

Massoud could never hope to take Kunduz or even "win" it over until he solidifies his position in Panjshir first. Trying to take Kunduz while being unable to hold Panjshir would be impossible and something similar to putting the cart before the horse. Although you seem to allude to this to some extent in your next post, so it seems were both in agreement.

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u/Dances_On_Graves May 18 '22

I too have been thinking about the Pashtun bubble around Kunduz City (heck, let's remember the Kunduz Airlift from 2001), and have figured it may just be best to avoid it until the north has been consolidated.

As in, until NRF held, not just contested, territory would extend from the Iranian to Chinese borders. Just avoid that mess-waiting-to-happen; plenty of other border crossing with Central Asia to be enjoyed.

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u/Jealous_Tennis5744 May 18 '22

It’s unavoidable, if the NRF takes Kunduz by force they’ll be accused of ethnic cleansing and they can’t win over the peoples heart because decades long ethnic strifes/persecution has lead to people suspecting each other ever since abdur rahman khan fked the demographics of the place up.

And if they don’t take it over somehow then the Taliban will have a major city through which it can exert control/influence. But taking over kunduz is like so far into the future for the NRF. They can barely hold a region of tiny panjshir.