Resistance fighters in Afghanistan have a new weapon in their war against the Taliban: A Washington lobbyist.
Representatives of the National Resistance Force are seeking military and financial help as they try to hold out against Afghanistan’s new rulers.
They have taken on Robert Stryk, who already represents several foreign clients on a pro bono basis, according to the New York Times.
At the same time, the Taliban is also reportedly seeking representation in Washington, as the Biden administration continues to negotiate its need to help American nationals, green card holders and Afghan allies flee the country with pressure to clamp down hard on movement known for its human rights abuses.
‘No entity could receive legitimacy without the support, endorsement of his excellency Ahmad Massoud, because he is the source of legitimacy today,” said Ali Nazary, who represents NRF leader Ahmad Massoud in the United States, told the New York Times.
Afghan resistance fighters, led by Ahmad Massoud (l), have taken on lobbyist Robert Stryk as they seek military and financial support from Washington for their battle against the Taliban
The Taliban claim to have overrun the Panjshir Valley, where Massoud was massing a new resistance movement
Afghan armed men supporting the Afghan security forces against the Taliban stand with their weapons and Humvee vehicles at Parakh area in Bazarak, Panjshir province on August 19, 2021
At the same time, the Taliban has appealed to Washington not to shut off its aid to Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, Amir Khan Muttaqi, the regime’s acting foreign minister, told a press conference the hardline Islamist group would spend donor money wisely and use it to alleviate poverty.
‘America is a big country, they need to have a big heart,’ he said.
Both sides see Washington as a key part of their struggle.
Rebel leader Massoud, is the 32-year-old British educated son of Ahmad Shah Masood, the most venerated of all Afghanistan’s resistance fighters, who was particularly skilled at channeling Western aid into his movement.
After leading the struggle against Soviet occupation through the 1980s and then battling the rise of the Taliban, he was assassinated by Al Qaeda days before the 9/11 attacks.
His son built a new rebellion in the Panjshir Valley, about 100 miles north of the capital Kabul as Taliban fighters seized control of the country.
But the rebels’ fortunes have ebbed and flowed, and the Taliban claimed last week to have taken control of the area.
Several reports said that Massoud had left for Turkey or another other Central Asian countries but NRF figures said the claims were false.
In a recent interview with DailyMail.com Nazary said the movement needed international help.
‘We need arms, munitions to continue the fight against terrorism,’ he said.
‘This is not only a fight against the Taliban, this is a fight against international terrorism – just as it was in the late 1990s.’
Massoud is the 32-year-old British-educated son of Ahmad Shah Masood, the most venerated of all Afghanistan’s resistance fighters
They are pinning their hopes on support from Washington and say they need aid to survive the winter.
‘We have thousands of people take shelter here. People who feel threatened have no choice to but to come to Panjshir,’ he said.
‘For us it is very difficult to sustain a safe zone without humanitarian support. We need the U.S., European Union, United Nations, anyone.’
In a sign of the way the battle is moving to Washington, on Wednesday, GOP senators unveiled a bill that would direct the State Department to list the Taliban as a terrorist organization.
It would impose sanctions and aim to prevent U.S. taxpayers money falling into the hands of terror groups in the country.
Sen. Marco Rubio said: ‘There is no doubt that a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan poses a direct threat to our national security interests and that of our allies and partners both in the Middle East and in Central Asia.’