SSN Commentary

Afghan Insurgents Are a Dead End

Policy field

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University of California-Santa Barbara

Originally published as Afghan Insurgents Are a Dead End, Foreign Policy, November 23, 2021.

Following the United States’ withdrawal of ground forces from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s renewed control, members of Congress and Afghan opposition actors called for supporting new anti-Taliban rebellions. The National Resistance Front, now based in Tajikistan, has been ramping up lobbying efforts in Washington in recent weeks, seeking support for a new fight against the Taliban. Amid a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, renewed repression of women and minorities, and doubts about the Taliban’s pledges not to offer a base to al Qaeda or other terrorist organizations, some policymakers might be increasingly tempted to give insurgents a chance.

That would be a mistake, repeating U.S. errors of creating partnerships with unaccountable and potentially abusive or corrupt armed groups in Afghanistan and elsewhere. It would also potentially violate international law. If the Biden administration wants to fulfill its promises to value human rights and shore up a rules-based international order, it should cut off aid to nonstate armed groups in Afghanistan and beyond.