A group of exiled Afghan warlords organize in Turkey against the Taliban

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On Thursday, exiled Afghan warlords and politicians announced the formation of a High Council of National Resistance against the Taliban, urging the Taliban to adopt a more inclusive administration or face civil war.

Since the Taliban regained power last year following a rapid withdrawal of US soldiers, there have been only intermittent attempts to challenge their rule.

Yet at the invitation of former Afghan vice president and warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, who sought asylum in Turkey when Kabul fell in August, 40 political actors gathered in Ankara on Tuesday.

Participants said their council should pave the way for the “liberation” of Afghanistan, according to a statement released to AFP on Thursday.

“We urge the Taliban to stop their damage and start discussions to find answers to Afghanistan’s current challenges,” they added.

The Taliban should “learn lessons from history” that “no organization can create a stable regime through acts of force and pressure”, according to the council.

Former Balkh provincial governor Atta Mohammad Noor, leader of the Shia Hazara community Mohammad Mohaqiq and Ahmad Wali Massoud of the National Resistance Front (NRF), the main group currently waging an armed insurgency against the government, say part of the founding members of the board.

Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, a longtime opponent of the Taliban and warlord, is also a signatory.

The aim of the council is “to try to solve the problems of Afghanistan through talks”, a spokesman for Dostum told AFP.

“The Taliban should accept that they cannot run the government or govern alone,” otherwise “Afghanistan will experience civil war once again,” he said.

Earlier this week, the Taliban announced the creation of a commission that would contact politicians in exile.

Taliban officials said they hoped to convene an assembly of citizens, tribal leaders and religious leaders to discuss the topic of “national unity”.

However, after making promises for an inclusive government, the Taliban formed an executive in September made up exclusively of Taliban members and almost entirely from the Pashtun ethnic group.

Kabul’s new rulers are already facing attacks from the NRF led by Ahmad Massoud – son of late commander Ahmad Shah Massoud – which has stepped up assaults in his former stronghold in the Panjshir Valley.

In its statement, the council said it viewed armed resistance against the Taliban as “legitimate”.

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