The National Resistance Front of Afghanistan: an interview with Hamid Saifi

An image of Hamid Saifi together with his fellow soldiers from the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan

Geopolitical Report ISSN 2785-2598 Volume 24 Issue 7
Author: Giuliano Bifolchi

Since the U.S. troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF), under the leadership of Ahmed Massoud, has fought against the Taliban and asked international support to contrast a government labelled as an “oppressor” and “no-democratic”.

After more than a year since the Taliban took power in Kabul, Afghanistan is mostly isolated from the international community, and it is facing economic crisis and security problems due to the activities of the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) and other terrorist groups which have increased their presence and activities on the Afghan territory.

Ahmed Masoud, the eldest son of anti-Soviet military leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, founded the military alliance National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, also known as the Second Resistance, in August 2021 and gathered men and arms in the Panjshir Valley and started fighting against the Taliban. Although in September 2021 the Taliban claimed their victory against the NRF and the control of the Panjshir Valley, the alliance led by Massoud is still “all over the valley” and represents the only organised resistance to the Taliban in the country, conducting an anti-Taliban guerrilla struggle.

On October 17th, 2022, we had the opportunity to interview Hamid Saifi, a former Afghanistan National Army commanding officer (5thBrigade of the 203rd Thunder Corps) and current member of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, to discuss the actual situation on the ground, the NRF strategy and deepen our knowledge about the local dynamics in Afghanistan.

What is the current status of your activities and fight against the Taliban?

“The armed resistance against the Taliban in the provinces of Panjshir (Andraba and Khost), Baghlan, Kapisa, Parwan, Badakhshan and Takhar and in other provinces of the country is actively in place. And every day, with the increased cruelty of the Taliban, the people of Afghanistan, inside and outside the country, are mobilising against this group. The political activities of the NRF have had positive developments both at the national and international levels.”.

What steps and strategies do the NRF see as fundamental to stabilising the country?

“The Resistance Front believes that stability in the country requires establishing an inclusive government based on the people’s legitimate votes and that Afghanistan has a system acceptable to the people of Afghanistan and the world.

The past 20 years’ achievements have been crucial developments in the country’s history. At no cost we must allow any group to eliminate those developments in every walks of life for the people of Afghanistan. A stable Afghanistan requires an inclusive and accepted government that is legitimate to the country’s people and the international community.”

Regional and foreign actors have often stated that Afghanistan should have a coalition Government, including the Taliban, in the future. What is the NRF’s position on this?

“The Taliban has proved that they have not changed, and neither can they bring any positive development in the country after their rule for the first time. On the contrary, their form of government is a military dictatorship. They never surrendered to the establishment of an inclusive government, and they still do not believe in elections, so the Taliban never could bring stability and positive change to people’s lives. They will not form a coalition; if it happens, the coalition with this group will never solve the problem of Afghanistan.”.

Since the Taliban took power, several terrorist attacks have targeted Afghan civilians. Recently, a U.S. special operation killed al-Qaeda leader al-Zawahiri. Do you believe the country has become a “safe heaven” for terrorist groups with Taliban power?

“The Taliban holds an unbreakable link and fraternity with the Al-Qaeda network, the Ansarullah terrorist group of Tajikistan, the Jundullah terrorist group of Uzbekistan, and the East Turkestan terrorist group, and the people of the groups mentioned above currently have safe havens in Afghanistan.”.

Neighbouring countries have adopted different foreign policies regarding the Taliban. Some of them, especially Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, seek economic and political cooperation with the Taliban. What do you think about it?

“The NRF has always warned of the terrorist dangers of the Taliban for the neighbouring countries, and it is hoped that the neighbouring countries will realise these dangers. The Taliban, a terrorist and radical group with strong ties to the Al-Qaeda and several other terrorist groups, is always a danger to the region’s security. The Taliban is never to be trusted, and they have always proved their promises are null.”.

Why doesn’t the international community support the NRF to contrast the Taliban that U.S. and Western troops had fought for 20 years?

The resistance front wants to maintain relations with the world while maintaining non-dependence and is waiting for a positive response from the world in this regard.

Of course, we need support. Of course, we need help. But the thing is that I still firmly believe that we need to come, all of us – as a collective team: the international community, alongside the Afghan elites who are not happy with the current situation.

The second thing was the past 20 years of war in Afghanistan. The world put all its efforts into doing something in the past 20 years but failed. And now they think there is no hope. However, Afghanistan is still savable, but not for long.”.