Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Amir al Mumineen (“the commander of the faithful”) of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban.
The Taliban’s top leader in Afghanistan and Pakistan today denied reports of ongoing negotiations with the Afghan government, and claimed instead that Western intelligence agencies are attempting to sow discord in his ranks. Omar also said the Taliban hope to bankrupt the US in a long, drawn-out war in the country.
In a statement issued today on the group’s website, Voice of Jihad, Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban’s “leader of the faithful,” denied the existence of negotiations and implored Afghans to continue fighting. Omar, who is thought to be based in either Karachi or Quetta in Pakistan, also reiterated that the Taliban would not talk to the Karzai government until all foreign troops have left Afghanistan.
Omar’s statement takes place after weeks of conflicting press reports, some of which have claimed that senior-level Taliban leaders, including several backed by Omar’s “Quetta Shura,” have conducted high-level talks with Afghan officials. But Afghan, UN, NATO, and US officials have denied that such talks have taken place. Mullah Kabir, a senior Taliban leader in the east, is said to have met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, yet Kabir himself denounced such negotiations in a statement released on Voice of Jihad.
In his most recent statement, Mullah Omar maintained that Taliban operations across the country have forced NATO officials to spread “misleading rumors of peace talks.”
“It is because of this pressure that the enemy has resorted to spreading the misleading rumors of peace talks,” Omar said. “Thus, they want to reduce the military pressure which is being exerted on them.” In addition, Omar claimed that the Taliban have blunted US-led assaults in and around Kandahar city and in Marjah in Helmand province.
The Taliban have not changed their stance on negotiations, Omar stated, and he dismissed reports of ongoing talks as “propaganda” designed to split the Taliban. Previously the Taliban have demanded the withdrawal of foreign forces, the dissolution of the Afghan government, and the reestablishment of Omar’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Also, the Taliban have refused to eject al Qaeda from their midst; this refusal led to Saudi Arabia’s recent withdrawal from acting as a potential mediator.
“The Islamic Emirate still holds its previous stand regarding the current issue of the country,” Omar stated. “Islamic Emirate believes that the solution of the issue lies in withdrawal of the foreign invading troops and establishment of a true Islamic and independent system in the country.”
The Coalition “wants to throw dust into the eyes of the people by spreading the rumors of negotiation,” Omar continued. “Claims about negotiation, flexibility in the stance of the Islamic Emirate, are mere baseless propaganda.”
Omar said that the Taliban will continue to fight despite the reports of negotiations.
“Our Mujahid people will never feel exhausted in the sacred path of Jihad, because it is a divine obligation and a great worship,” said Omar. “Fatigue can have no way into it…. They [the Taliban] do not give chance to the enemy to create split among them through propaganda and other covert machinations.”
Omar blamed “the intelligence agencies of the hostile countries” for creating the reports of Taliban negotiations, and accused the press of irresponsibility in publishing such reports.
“The believing people of Afghanistan and the public of the world should not trust any news report or rumor about the stance of the Islamic Emirate disseminated by any one rather than the leadership of the Islamic Emirate or the designated spokesmen, because such new reports are spread by the intelligence agencies of the hostile countries,” he said. “Then the media outlets affiliated with these espionage entities, irresponsibly publish them with great fanfare.”
In his latest statement, Omar also said the Taliban had a plan to counter the uptick in operations by the Coalition and Afghan forces, which he deemed a failure.
“Our coming military programs will forge ahead on the basis of the climate of the country and the geographical locations as per the plans now at the disposal of the Mujahideen,” Omar stated. “The aim is to entangle the enemy in an exhausting war of attrition and wear it away like the former Soviet Union. This will force it face disintegration after dealing a crushing and decisive blow at it that it would not be able to hold itself thereafter. To achieve this, we have hammered out short term and long term plans. We are optimistic about the results of these plans. Our strategy is to increase our operations step by step and spread them to all parts of the country to compel the enemy to come out from their hideouts and then crush them through tactical raids.”
Although Omar said the Taliban’s strategy has been effective in Kandahar and in Marjah, the Coalition has claimed success in these operations over the past several months. In fact, the Taliban have been reduced to low-level hit and run tactics in Marjah, the bulk of their forces having fled their traditional strongholds in the districts of Zhari and Panjwai west and south of Kandahar city.
While the Taliban have managed to spread their terror insurgency into all corners of Afghanistan, they have failed in their efforts to overrun US and Afghan bases in eastern Afghanistan. The two most recent attacks, in Nangarhar and Khost provinces, were tactical failures; during the assaults on Combat Outposts Margah and Fenty, 90 Taliban, Haqqani Network, and al Qaeda fighters were killed, while no US or Afghan forces were killed.
Omar’s statement on Taliban strategy constitutes an update to a directive he issued earlier this year. In June, NATO claimed to have recovered a directive from Mullah Omar that sanctioned attacks on civilians, including women, who cooperate with the Taliban’s enemies. [See LWJ report, Mullah Omar orders Taliban to attack civilians, Afghan women.]
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.