Taliban’s prime objectives: US withdrawal, ‘establishment of an Islamic government’

The Taliban reiterated that its prime objectives in negotiations with the US is to get Coalition forces to withdrawal from Afghanistan and the “establishment of an Islamic government,” a thinly veiled reference to the return of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

The Taliban also said that it was “religiously” obligated to continue fighting until the US leaves the country.

The message is nothing new. The Taliban has repeatedly stated that it has a religious obligation to wage jihad to expel foreign forces, and has said the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is the only true representative of the Afghan people.

The Taliban made the most recent claims in a short statement, titled Occupation and Ceasefire!!, published on its official website, Voice of Jihad, on Sept. 21.

In the statement, the Taliban argued that the US canceled negotiations to withdraw because the US would not agree to the ceasefire. The Taliban said that a ceasefire “will only prolong and strengthen the occupation,” and that it will continue to fight until the US agrees to leave.

“Unless the occupation ceased, the war will not see an end,” it reads. “We are religiously and inherently obligated to continue our Jihad until the complete expulsion of invaders.”

The Taliban then reiterated it has two “clear-cut objectives:” 1) forcing the US to withdraw, and 2) the establishment of an “Islamic government.”

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has repeatedly made it absolutely clear that the aim of this Jihad is the end of occupation and establishment of an Islamic government,” it concluded. “Our national and religious obligation shall continue unabated until we attain these clear-cut objectives, Allah willing.”

This is entirely consistent with the Taliban messaging for nearly two decades. Additionally, the Taliban’s actions during two rounds of negotiations with the US. In both sets of negotiations, the Taliban insisted that the US and its NATO allies must withdraw their troops from Afghanistan before the Taliban would even consider granting any concessions such as a ceasefire, negotiations with the Afghan government, and renouncing al Qaeda.

Even if the Taliban agreed to such terms, it is highly unlikely that it would adhere to such an agreement. Al Qaeda and the Taliban remain stalwart allies, and the two continue to maintain both a tactical and strategic relationship to this day. The Taliban views the Afghan government as an “un-Islamic” “stooge” and “puppet” of the West, and has publicly stated it would never share power with the “Kabul administration.”

“The Islamic Emirate has not readily embraced this death and destruction for the sake of some silly ministerial posts or a share of the power,” the Taliban said in an official statement released on Voice of Jihad in 2016.

Over the years, the Taliban has used the terms “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the name of its brutal regime from 1996 to 2001, and “Islamic government” interchangeably. In the same 2016 statement, the Taliban said that it “will strive to build our beloved nation on the basis of Islamic law.” In the next statement, it described “the Emirate” as “the true representative of our people.”

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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