Business & Lobbying

Afghan resistance leader retains K Street lobbyist

The leader of a prominent Afghan resistance group has retained a Washington lobbyist to push for U.S. support in the group's effort to oust the Taliban from power.

Ahmad Massoud, head of the anti-Taliban National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, signed a contract with K Street lobbyist Robert Stryk, according to a Justice Department filing released Wednesday.

The resistance group is asking for weapons and financial support as it battles the Taliban in Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley, according to the New York Times, which first reported the lobbying hire. The effort is also meant to ensure that the U.S. does not recognize the Taliban government as legitimate.

Republicans in Congress have called on President Biden to recognize the resistance group as the "legitimate government representatives" in Afghanistan. Biden has indicated that he no longer wants the U.S. to engage in Afghanistan's conflicts after withdrawing from the nation, and the State Department has been working with the Taliban to evacuate remaining Americans and U.S. allies.

The Taliban government has been looking for Washington lobbyists of their own to help establish legitimacy, the Times reported. But it's unclear how lobbyists would be able to represent the Taliban since the U.S. has imposed sanctions aimed at restricting the group's finances.

Massoud, the Afghan resistance leader, is the son of an Afghan mujahideen leader who fought Soviet and Taliban forces in past conflicts. His group is continuing to fight the Taliban even after they took control of the country's capital, Kabul.

Stryk's lobbying work for the group will be pro bono, according to Justice Department filings reviewed by the Times.

Stryk, a Republican lobbyist, represented several foreign governments under former President Trump and has continued to do so during the Biden administration.

Earlier this year, Stryk signed a multimillion-dollar contract with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's government in an effort to ease U.S. sanctions enacted after American officials declared that Maduro's 2018 election win was illegitimate.

Updated at 4:01 p.m.