Taliban’s Number 2: ‘You leave, we (might) talk’

The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency has published an e-mail interview with the second-in-command of Afghanistan’s Taliban, Mullah Baradar Akhund (a hat tip to Juan Cole at the Informed Comment blog for sharing the US Government’s Open Source Center’s translation of the story).

In addition to the usual “we’re winning, we’re going to keep winning” message track, here’s some highlights from that:

“So, is Taliban linked to Al Qaeda, or is it independent of AQ? Yes … no … no comment … what’s your next question?”

The current jihad in Afghanistan is led by the Islamic Emirate. What the international community says about separating the Taleban and Al-Qa’idah is meaningless, it is just a pretext.

Where’s the Taliban’s bosses and Osama?

So far as the leadership of the Islamic Emirate is concerned, they are not in Pakistan. We can also say that the leadership of Al-Qa’idah is not in Pakistan.

“What outside help?”

In our fight against the aggressive forces in Afghanistan, we use weapons which were used by the mojahedin against the Russians. These weapons are still in Afghanistan. Some weapons dumps built during the period of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan still exist and the mojahedin use them. The mojahedin also capture some weapons and ammunitions from the enemy from time to time as booty of war, because the enemies escape from the battlefields immediately and leave all their weapons.

“Nobody’s negotiating with Afghanistan – nothing to see here”

Q: Have you ever talked to the government or the foreigners? A: No. Q: They say Abdollah Anas has negotiated representing the Taleban. Is he your representative? A: We have neither permitted anyone to negotiate nor do we have any representative by the name of Abdollah Anas.

“You leave, we (might) talk to Karzai and others”

Afghanistan has been attacked and invaded. If the aggressor forces take steps to end their invasion and put an end to their aggression and if we have guarantees of that, we will then explicitly announce our stance …. Karzai’s administration is a symbol and unclean sign of the Americans. The Afghans are very sensitive about and strictly hate the administration. Still, this is a question which could be answered when the aggressors leave Afghanistan …. Q: Are you ready to include former communists, the mojahedin groups which fought amongst each other and members of the current administration in the future system? A: This will be decided later depending on conditions.

Is this latest statement an attempt to shore up the united front that the Taliban leadership want the world to see? Or is it a denial that there are any cracks (statements about the splintering of the Taliban notwithstanding)? I’m going to agree with analysts saying it’s likely a bit of both.

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