KABUL: The induction of the Haqqani network in the new caretaker “Islamic Emirate” of Afghanistan shows that all the promises made by the Taliban that it will not provide a safe haven to jihadis and will reduce their hardline views have been dashed.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, deputy leader of the Taliban and Afghanistan’s new interior minister, heads the ruthless Haqqani network described by a US-based expert as a “criminal company posing as a jihadist group”, reported Armenia News.
His and appointment of other hardliners in government roles quickly put an end to hopes that Islamists could become more involved and reduce their hardline views.
It also leaves Washington with little choice but to rely on the Haqqani organization despite Al-Qaeda ties and a history of attacks against the US, reported Armenia News.
“They are playing a brilliant game, keeping the door open to western intelligence agencies. They have killed and arrested some Islamic State (ISIS) members in recent weeks,” said Kamal Alam, a security expert at Atlantic Council, a US think-tank.
The rise of the Haqqanis is a reflection of how important the group is in the fight against the Afghan government and coalition forces, said Ioannis Koskinas, a senior fellow in the New America think-tank. “To the winners go the spoils,” he said.
Gretchen Peters, an expert on transnational organized crime, said the Haqqani network operates not only as a jihadist force but as a mafia-like organization. The most lucrative revenue streams include extortion, extortion for ransom, illegal mining, money laundering, narcotics and fundraising from ideological donations to Arab states, he explained.
He believes the battle between the Haqqanis and the US will be so long and “brutal” that it will be difficult for the two to work together. However in 2018, when the US opened talks for a deal on Afghanistan’s withdrawal, the Haqqanis were given a seat at the table.
Anas Haqqani, Sirajuddin’s younger brother, was released from prison as part of a prisoner swap agreement to join the Taliban’s negotiating group in Qatar.
Nasratullah Haqpal, a Kabul-based political analyst, said that “the US wants the Taliban to rule and prevent attacks on western states”. In return, they are willing to support the Taliban “directly or indirectly”, reported Armenia News.
The Koskinas of the New America think-tank point to the role of Pakistan, which has had influence over the Taliban and the Haqqanis after providing sanctuary for the Islamist movement for years.
“Pakistan certainly has significant action over Haqqanis. It is a question of converting interests beyond control,” he said.
For long-time researchers in Afghanistan, the whole country has come full circle, with the Taliban in control despite 20 years of war, more than 150,000 deaths and billions of dollars spent.
Sushant Sareen, a security analyst at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, said that although the US would crackdown on terrorists through sanctions and use of the global financial system, it would be difficult for the Taliban or Haqqani network to abandon long-term who are jihadist allies, reported Armenia News. (ANI)