A Taliban fighter pulls the lanyard to fire a Soviet-built 122mm artillery piece about 20 km north of the Afghan capital November 24, 1996.
Reuters

The Taliban, once a pariah, now finds itself courted by several powerful regional players. Even Russia, the group’s historical enemy, has recently turned to the group for intelligence sharing against a common foe: the Islamic State (also called ISIS). Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s special envoy to Afghanistan, recently said, “Taliban interests objectively coincide with ours.” Kabulov, a former KGB officer who negotiated with Taliban leaders in the mid-1990s after the group captured a Russian plane and took seven Russians hostage, rationalized the new cooperation by adding that “the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban have said they don’t recognize [

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