According to an interview published by Paris Match on Wednesday, the leader of a resistance movement to the Taliban has vowed never to surrender but is open to negotiations with the new rulers of Afghanistan.
Ahmad Massoud, the son of legendary Afghan rebel commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, has retreated to his native Panjshir valley north of Kabul and former Vice President Amrullah Saleh.
“I would rather die than surrender,” Massoud told French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy in his first interview since the Taliban seized Kabul. “I am the son of Ahmad Chah Massoud. Surrender is not a word in my vocabulary.”
Massoud claimed that “thousands” of men were joining his National Resistance Front in the Panjshir Valley, which was never captured by invading Soviet forces in 1979 or the Taliban during its first term in power between 1996 and 2001.
He renewed his call for the support of foreign leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron. He expressed bitterness that he was denied weapons shortly before the fall of Kabul earlier this month.
“I cannot forget the historical mistake made by those from whom I asked for weapons just eight days ago in Kabul,” Massoud said, according to a transcript of the interview published in French.
“They refused. And these weapons, artillery, helicopters, US-made tanks, are today in the hands of the Taliban,” he said.
Massoud added that he was willing to talk to the Taliban and lay out a possible deal’s general lines.
“We can talk. In all wars, there are conversations. And my father always spoke with his enemies,” he said.
“Let’s imagine that the Taliban agreed to respect the rights of women, minorities, democracy, the principles of an open society,” he added. “Why not try to explain that these principles would benefit all Afghans, including them?
Massoud’s father, a Francophile with close ties to Paris and the West, was nicknamed the “Lion of Panjshir” for his role in fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s and the Taliban regime in the 1980s. 1990.
Al-Qaeda assassinated him two days before the attacks of September 11, 2001.