Christopher W. Allison, U.S. Army
As the Obama administration speeds up the drawdown in troops and rushes for the exit from Afghanistan, the Taliban has begun to celebrate the American withdrawal as a victory, and it is preparing for a comeback after foreign troops leave the country.
In a message posted today on the Taliban's website to congratulate Muslims on the eve of Eid al-Adha, the group's reclusive leader Mullah Omar praised his fighters for inflicting severe damage to the "invaders" and forcing the "greatest enemy of Islam" from Afghanistan:
For the past ten years, our brave Mujahedeen have been engaged in Jihad against a brutal and invading enemy for a noble cause, and are rendering sacrifices on a daily basis. And with Allah's help, they have pushed the wealthiest and most arrogant power of the world to the brink of collapse. They have killed and wounded thousands of their troops and inflicted permanent disabilities and mental disorders on many others. As a result, their people have risen up, are protesting, and the American and Western nations are no longer ready to extend the Afghanistan war and see their soldiers return in coffins. It is only Allah Almighty's grace and mercy that He chose us to serve this nation and the Islamic community at this determining and sensitive juncture and defeated the greatest enemy of Islam by our hands.
The fugitive leader also warned his fighters that they would be penalized if found negligent in protecting civilians--an attempt to win hearts and minds after a U.N. report recently found the Taliban responsible for about 80 percent of civilian deaths. But Mullah Omar also cautioned the population to "avoid moving in close proximity to Americans that patrol in villages and countryside" because they will be targeted by the Taliban. Writing under the title of Amir-ul-Momineen, the leader of the Muslim community, he also called on Muslims around the world to observe Islamic law and "be cautious of the plots of the enemies of Islam."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently said Washington was ready to negotiate with Mullah Omar and now regarded his involvement as key to peace in Afghanistan. American and Afghan officials have also tried to encourage the Taliban leadership to attend the international summit to be held next month in Germany to decide on Afghanistan's future. But Mullah Omar rejected the Bonn Conference as "pointless." He sees President Obama and Secretary Clinton's strategy as preparation for surrender, and he envisages a complete Taliban military victory. Sometimes what American diplomats see as sincere outreach to seek an adversary's unclenched fist, the enemy simply sees as weakness.
Ahmad Majidyar is a senior research associate at AEI