November 19, 2009
Late last month, U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin described a new law signed by President Barack Obama authorizing the payment of Taliban militants in return for laying down their arms. Lower-level Taliban fighters would be offered amnesty and employment in new local defense militias patterned on the “Awakening” movement that diverted many Iraqi Sunni militants into pro-government forces that played a major role in expelling al-Qaeda from large parts of Iraq (AFP, October 29; Reuters, October 27).
The Taliban responded to this initiative with an October 30 statement by Deputy Amir Mullah Brader Akhund, released through the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Voice of Jihad website (alemarah.info, October 30). Mullah Brader described the plan as nothing new, suggesting “old weapons” of this type were already a proven failure in Afghanistan: “The British invaders used it in the 19th century but failed; the former Soviet Union used it; it failed too.”
Mullah Brader issued a number of points for the “moribund rulers of the White House”:
• The existence of “moderate” and “extremist” Taliban does not correspond with reality; these terms are American inventions.
• The Mullah describes the professional soldiers of the Coalition and members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) as “mercenaries and employed gunmen.” By contrast, the Taliban fight solely for independence and the establishment of a Shari’a system. “This war will come to an end when all invaders leave our country and an Islamic government based on the aspirations of our people is formed in the country.”
• The White House should focus on “pragmatic” and “realistic” means of ending the conflict. The United States should stop “shedding the blood of innocent Muslim people” by pulling its forces out of Afghanistan and by putting “an end to the game of colonialization.”
• The huge military expenditure on the war in Afghanistan will deepen the American economic crisis. “Your people will face more problems and suffer from psychological diseases.”
• In a reference to President Hamid Karzai and his brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, Mullah Brader denounced those “few well-known Afghan Americans who sell their country and who have received training in the CIA cells for many years.” The Mullah describes their actions as an unforgivable and shameful act that will carry an “historical taint.” The Mullah suggests American leaders should look at the example of the pro-British Shah Shuja (assassinated in 1842), and the pro-Soviet Babrak Karmal, who was ousted as president by his Soviet sponsors in 1986. The United States should study what status these surrogate leaders had “in the eye of the Afghan masses.”
The Taliban statement came at the close of a month that saw 53 American fatalities in Afghanistan, the worst single month for U.S. military losses since the war began in 2001.
This article first appeared in the November 19, 2009 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor