It has been revealed to FRN that the Afghan Taliban will meet in Moscow with Russian leadership to further their effort against the Islamic State in Afghanistan.

The meeting will take place September 4th. This information was confirmed to FRN, and restated by the head of the second in charge at the Asia-wide department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Zamir Kabulov. Preparations are now underway for the meeting, in addition to the Taliban and Russia –  China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and representatives of several other countries of the region will take part. Meetings in this format have been held before, but without the participation of representatives of the Taliban. This makes today’s announcement a major one. 

The Taliban will be represented by Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai. He previously worked in the capital of Qatar, where he negotiated with representatives of the United States. In early August, he visited Uzbekistan, where he negotiated with the country’s Foreign Ministry. A number of media reports that Stanekzai also visited Indonesia.

The history of the relationship between Russia and the Taliban is full of contradictions. On the territory of the Russian Federation, the activities of the Taliban are prohibited, and the movement itself is recognized as terrorist. However, this does not prevent the two sides from having contacts (which no one hides). This is a reason for criticism from the US, which accuses Russia of supplying weapons to militants. Back in 2015, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the coincidence of the interests of Russia and the Taliban in the issue of opposition to the Islamic State.

However, later he specified that the Russian side does not directly use the Taliban to fight Daesh, or the IS. This is the ostensibly the same organization as ISIS, the IS of Syria and Iraq.

In Afghanistan itself, a truce between the Taliban and official Kabul began in honor of the holiday of Eid al-Adha (Qurban Bayram). However, before it began, the Taliban launched a major offensive in several regions of the country, seized the eponymous capital of the province of Ghazni and a number of other settlements. The militants clearly hoped to maintain the positions they had seized, which would not be attacked because of the truce.

At the same time, the US continues to occupy parts of Afghanistan to protect its appropriation of the region’s valuable lithium, as well as well as to secure its domination of the Asian opium trade. Much of this opium is processed into heroin, which winds up in European black markets.

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In short, there is minimally a three-way conflict in Afghanistan. The development of IS grew out of Al Qaeda, while the Taliban also has, or had, several factions. However, the Kabul government has been trying to push itself out of overt US domination for over a decade, even while it relies on US support for its fight against both IS and the Taliban. Meanwhile, IS acts in accordance with US geostrategic aims, leading experts to conclude that the US uses IS as a hedge against Kabul independence, forcing the nominally secular Kabul government to be dependent on the US ‘support’.

Russia is therefore understood as working with the Taliban to eventually create a space for the Kabul government to maneuver, and an anti-US/IS coalition can be formed, which could finally win independence for Afghanistan from both IS terrorism and US occupation, which seem to go hand in hand in any number of conflicts, including Syria.

This narrative mirrors ‘Northern Alliance Taliban’ vs. ‘Al Qaeda Taliban’ discourse from 15 years ago. The major difference now is that the US’s influence upon the world stage is shrinking in proportion to the value of petro-dollar, as  both military, geostrategic, and financial multi-polarity is on the rise. With regard to Afghanistan, we can project an increase in Iranian and Russian influence in the region.

The apparent pivot and reorientation of Pakistan into the pro-multipolar realm, is also a major part of this process. Historically, the Pakistani ISI was involved in the development and sustenance of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. At the same time, it is also apparent that there never was a self-described Al Qaeda except in the world of lore and US intelligence fiction, until it was reified by gulf-state monarchies, the US, Israel, and Turkey into a real being in Libya and Syria, which was quickly rebranded as ‘ISIS’ in order to better account for the slight change in ideology, making it more open to Muslim Brotherhood (Qutbist) iterations of Salafism as opposed to strictly Wahhabi iterations of Salafism.

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