In 2003 Russia designated the Taliban as a terrorist group. Technically they’ve never changed their stance but what’s going on behind the iron curtains tells a different story. For decades the Russians have been laying the groundwork for the day when the militants would finally retake Afghanistan and they aren’t wasting any time hopping in the sack with them.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that for now, Moscow will not change the Taliban’s designation and that Russian is “in no rush” to recognize them as the official government of Afghanistan, but still, they like what they’re seeing. Lavrov claims the Taliban is sending “encouraging signals” concerning their willingness to work with other Afghan political forces.
Though there has been no indication of this, Lavrov said the Taliban are even considering allowing girls to receive an education. However, under their previous rule girls were also allowed to learn and study as long the Koran was the only book they owned, so it’s doubtful academics will enter the equation.
Since on record Russia still says the Taliban is a terrorist group, anyone caught contacting them is subject to severe punishment from the same government who is now in violation of their own law. But this is different in the eyes of Moscow.
Lavrov said that meeting and greeting with the as yet to be officially recognized Taliban government is part of an international effort to stabilize the entire region. But, since Russia is the only country even speaking with the Taliban it kinda blows that hogwash out of the water. The remainder of the world has turned its back on the ruthless killers.
While embassy personnel from other countries have hauled ass out of Afghanistan, the Russians hung around. In fact, their embassy ambassador wasted no time in meeting with the Taliban whom he cordially invited to his office. He described the talks as “constructive.”
Zamir Kabulov, the Kremlin’s go-between with the Afghans, said these less-than-believable words. “We have maintained contact with the Taliban for the last seven years, discussing many issues. We saw them as a force that will play a leading role in Afghanistan in the future even if it doesn’t take all power. All those factors, along with guarantees given to us by the Taliban’s top leaders, give us reason for a calm view of the latest developments, although we remain vigilant.” In the words of Alfred E. Newman, “What me worry?”
Hang on, it’s about to get even better. The Russians knew in advance of the Taliban’s upcoming offensive drive. They knew every detail, up to and including the fall of Kabul. They also knew their embassy was safe from attack. A month prior to the start of the Taliban’s bloody push, they sent a delegation to Moscow. They went there to make certain that Moscow understood they had nothing to fear. Not only in Afghanistan but anywhere in Central Asia.
Taliban spokesman Mohammad Sohail Shaheen gave further indication of how strong the Russia/Taliban cement is by stating quite clearly that “we won’t allow anyone to use the Afghan territory to attack Russia or neighboring countries. We have very good relations with Russia.”
Alexei Makarkin, a political analyst living in Moscow, said, “Russian diplomats are doing all they can to consolidate the contacts they have established with the Taliban. Russian representatives cast the Taliban as moderate and responsible, acting as their advocates in the public sphere.”
“The Taliban’s leaders will be unlikely to launch an expansion now, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t take such steps in the future,” Makarkin continued. He said there are different factions within the Taliban itself that have different ideas, motives, and goals from one another. Inner turmoil is nothing new to the Taliban just as it is nothing new to the entire region.
So while Russia and the Taliban are dry-humping, other factions within the Taliban, who don’t care about Russia, are plotting their own courses. As is historically true of the region, these factions will one day divide into their armies and will war with one another. At this point, the Russians could easily sweep in immediately reign supreme.
For now, it’s a game of cat and mouse with Russia and the Taliban, each one claiming loyalty to the other. The thing we have yet to determine though is who’s stalking who.