The ingenious game of the Haqqani network ends with the role of the Afghan government

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With the inauguration of the Afghan government this week, the responsibility for fulfilling the Taliban’s pledge not to provide a safe haven for jihadists was handed over to a US-designated “global terrorist”, and the FBI offered a $10 million reward.

The deputy Taliban leader and the new Afghan Interior Minister Sirajadine Haqqani leads the ruthless Haqqani network, which an American expert described as a “criminal enterprise disguised as a jihadist organization.” He was pursued by the United States in connection with the hotel bombing in Kabul in 2008.

The senior role of him and other activists in the government Quickly break through I hope that Islamists can be more tolerant and downplay their hardline views. This also left Washington with no choice but to rely on the Haqqani organization, despite its ties to Al Qaeda and a history of attacking the United States.

“They are playing a very clever game that opens the door to Western intelligence agencies. They have killed and arrested several ISIS members in the past few weeks,” said Kamal Alam, a security expert at the Atlantic Council of the United States think tank. Kamal Alam) said. “But in terms of inclusive government, this is a big’we don’t need you’ for the United States.”

Ioannis Koskinas, a senior researcher at the New American Think Tank, said that the rise of the Haqqani faction reflects the importance of the organization in the fight against the Afghan government and coalition forces.

“The trophy goes to the victor,” he said. When the United States was distracted by the long-term peace talks before the withdrawal, “the Taliban’s military leadership focused on winning local battles in Afghanistan. The Haqqani are a key component of the Taliban’s winning strategy.”

The FBI’s “Information Seeking” poster for Afghanistan’s new Interior Minister Sirajadin Haqqani © FBI via Reuters

Sirajuddin’s father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, was a former jihadist commander. The name comes from Darul Uloom Haqqani madrassa in northwestern Pakistan and is known as the “jihadist university”.

Haqqanis was secretly funded by the CIA through Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI, and carried out a guerrilla attack on the Soviet Union during the occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Jalaluddin is fluent in Arabic, has established contacts with Al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden, and has invested heavily in religious schools that serve as a base for recruiting new fighters.

When the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 in retaliation for the September 11 attacks, the Haqqani network retreated from its traditional base Loya Paktia in southeastern Afghanistan to Pakistan’s North Waziristan province, where it moved from the safe house. Take action.

Sirajuddin took over in the mid-2000s and is known for high-profile attacks, including the bombing of the Serena Hotel in Kabul that killed six people and the 2008 assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Gretchen Peters, a transnational organized crime expert, said that the Haqqani network not only operates as a jihadist force, but also as a mafia-like organization. She explained that its most profitable sources of income include extortion, kidnapping, illegal mining, money laundering, narcotics and raising funds from ideological donors in Arab countries.

She believes that the struggle between the Haqqani and the United States is so long and “cruel” that it is difficult for the two to cooperate. “Many of their family members were taken away in a drone attack, and the idea that the United States will be able to cooperate with them in any way is impossible,” she said.

However, in 2018, When the U.S. started negotiating an agreement to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, The Haqqani got a seat on the table. Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of SirajadinHe was released from prison as part of an exchange agreement between prisoners who joined the Qatar Taliban negotiating team.

A few days before the signing of the Doha Agreement in early 2020, Sirajadin, the most active field commander, wrote a The seemingly magnanimous New York Times column“He is the most feared leader. Americans are chasing him, but he did say all the right things the West wants to hear,” said Zahid Hussain, the author of the book. . A war without victory: the paradox of US-Pakistan relations in the shadow of Afghanistan.

Ashley Jackson, co-director of the Armed Groups Research Center of the Overseas Development Institute, said that the United States has been laying the groundwork for bringing senior Afghan militant leaders into the international scope to achieve a bloodless exit-but the armed takeover of the Taliban has shortened this process.

“you [now] There is a very embarrassing situation where the Taliban government and the United States are in a relationship of interdependence,” she said.

Nasratullah Hackpal, a political analyst based in Kabul, stated that the United States “wants the Taliban to rule and prevent attacks on Western countries.” In return, they are willing to support the Taliban “directly or indirectly”.

Koskinas of the New American Think Tank pointed to the role of Pakistan, which has had an impact on the Taliban and Hakanis after providing asylum to the Islamic movement for many years.

On Friday, Taliban fighters sat next to a street vendor in a market in Kabul

Taliban fighters sit next to a street vendor in a market in Kabul on Friday © AP

“Pakistan certainly has a lot of influence on the Haqqani. This is a matter of merging interests rather than control,” he said.

For those who have been engaged in Afghanistan research for a long time, the country has returned to its original point. Despite 20 years of war, more than 150,000 deaths and billions of dollars spent, the militants are still under control.

Susanne Sarin, a security analyst at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, said that although the United States will use sanctions and the use of the global financial system to pressure militants, it will be difficult for the Taliban or the Haqqani network to turn their backs on them for a long time. Allies of Jihadi.

“Until now, we thought these were terrorists-they were in bed with Al Qaeda,” he said. “Now if you tell me they will be partners in the fight against terrorism, then please tell me who are terrorists?”

Additional reporting by Amy Kazmin and Benjamin Parkin in New Delhi

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