Just in case you missed it, yesterday the Afghan Taliban made a “proclamation of the Islamic Emirate’s victory,” issuing a typical, oddly-written diatribe published on their website, Voice of Jihad. As usual, the nearly-700-word briefer poorly argues that the Taliban movement is not only a “military power” but also “a well-organized political power.” In short, the statement claims that the Taliban movement is:
– not dependent upon the external assistance of foreign governments (i.e., Pakistan);
– widely supported by the Afghan population and the global Islamic community (ummah);
– militarily victorious despite the 10-year effort by the US and NATO in Afghanistan to crush the Taliban;
– unified and organized, and;
– the only viable and logical alternative to the current Afghan regime.
These themes are common among most official Taliban communiqués, and do not constitute the most notable part of the statement. That distinction goes to the explanation given for settling on Qatar as the site of the Taliban’s de facto political office:
The choice of Qatar for the inauguration of formal office shows the political deliberation of the Islamic Emirate. If this initiative had been taken in some neighboring country, it would have been another chance of every day propaganda for Karzai administration. If the office was inaugurated in Saudi Arabia, someone else would have suspected it because of the close bilateral relations of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. And finally Turkey could not have been considered an ideal place for the sovereignty and prestige of this office because of its membership of the NATO alliance.
But Qatar having balance relations with all sides and a prestigious status in the Islamic world is the most appropriate place for this kind of office.
It is interesting that in choosing the location for an office, the Taliban rejected Turkey for its membership in NATO; decided against Pakistan (described as “some neighboring country”) because it would have given Afghan opposition blocs more reasons to thwart the Karzai regime’s ongoing peace efforts (“everyday propaganda for the Karzai administration”); and nixed Saudi Arabia because of its historic links with Pakistan and the Taliban regime (the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan were the only three states to every officially recognize the Taliban government between 1996-2001).
The National Coalition of Afghanistan (NCA), a newly formed opposition bloc to the Karzai regime that consists of many influential former United Islamic Front commanders, cautiously stated they would support the peace talks but warned that Afghan parties must also be part of the talks. This comes as a delegation of NCA officials met with US representatives in Berlin last week, where they initially urged that serious consideration be given to federalizing the boundaries of Afghanistan and decentralizing the government.
Although not affiliated with the NCA, Haji Mohammad Muhaqeq, one of the most influential Hazara leaders, demanded that Afghanistan’s ethnic minorities be included in the talks. And in contrast to the Taliban’s description of Qatar as “having balance[d] relations with all sides and [its] prestigious status in the Islamic world,” Muhaqeq termed Qatar as mustamera-e-Amrika, essentially a “colony of the US.”
While half-heartedly supporting the ongoing efforts to establish a dialogue with the Afghan Taliban, the NCA and other powerful players in Afghanistan’s virulent political landscape are more than skeptical of the Taliban’s intentions as well as the suspect role of Qatar in US-Taliban negotiations.
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