State urges Taliban yet again to ‘run for office’

Just hours after the Taliban announced the launch of this year’s spring offensive, named the “Al Khandaq Jihadi operations,” the US Department of State issued a statement urging the Taliban to lay down its arms, conduct negotiations, and join Afghanistan’s election process. State’s repetitive call for the Taliban to make peace demonstrates an unthinkable fundamental misunderstanding of the Taliban and its goals some 16 years after the US first entered Afghanistan.

The Taliban has no intention of joining a political process and as it has stated numerous times, its goals are the expulsion of US and foreign forces, the overthrow of the Afghan government, the re-establishment of the of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the name of the Taliban’s government) and the imposition of its harsh brand of Sharia, or Islamic law. Yet, US officials across three administrations have either failed to recognize those intentions or are low on options with their incessant push for the Taliban to negotiate.

The statement, attributed to Acting Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, is reproduced in full below. The last paragraph is especially facile:

As President Ghani recently said, the Taliban should turn their bullets and bombs into ballots. They should run for office. They should vote. We encourage Taliban leaders to return to Afghanistan from their foreign safe havens and work constructively for Afghanistan’s future. More violence will not bring peace and security to Afghanistan.

The idea that the Taliban would join a democratic political process and share power with Afghans who they view as puppets, stooges and pawns – all words they have previously used to describe the Afghan government – is both a nonstarter and nonsensical.

The Taliban has repeatedly stated that it is fighting a religious war, and that it is therefore required to eject the Coalition and overthrow the Afghan government by force. The reality is the Taliban is waging jihad. The Taliban justifies its jihad by using passages from the Koran. This year’s offensive, Al Khandaq Jihadi operations, is named after a successful battle fought by the Prophet Muhammad in Medina, Saudi Arabia, in 627. Note “jihadi” in the name.

This is what the Taliban stated yesterday when it announced the onset of the operations:

The continuation of the legitimate Jihadi resistance against the foreign invaders and their internal and external supporters is deemed as a legal, moral and security obligation by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as a defending force of the pious values of our sacred religion of Islam and the territorial integrity of our homeland.

Rather than dismiss the Taliban’s myriad of statements as mere propaganda, instead examine how the Taliban has acted since the US invaded the country in 2001.

The Taliban refused to surrender Osama bin Laden after the attacks on the US on 9/11 and instead risked losing its state. The Taliban didn’t do so just because it didn’t want to violate local custom of protecting a guest; the Taliban and al Qaeda are ideological bedfellows and remain closely allied to this day.

The Taliban has weathered several rough periods since the US invasion. It waited out the US “surge” from 2009-2014, where more than 120,000 US troops backed by the might of US air power, fought to expel the Taliban from its sanctuaries in Helmand and Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban. Despite suffering major setbacks, it never sought to negotiate or join the political process then. They will not now.

US officials are wasting their time, energy, and political cachet by begging the Taliban to join the peace process and share power with the government of Afghanistan.

Press Releases: On Taliban Announcement of Spring Offensive
04/25/2018 06:37 PM EDT

Press Statement
John J. Sullivan
Acting Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 25, 2018

We have seen the Taliban’s announcement of their spring offensive. The announcement affirms the Taliban’s responsibility for the insecurity that destroys the lives of thousands of Afghans each year.

President Ghani recently extended an historic invitation for the Taliban to join a peace process, and there is no justification for the announcement of a new offensive. There is no need for a new “fighting season.” Still, the Taliban announced another campaign of senseless violence targeting the democratically elected and internationally recognized Afghan government and their fellow Afghans.

The United States stands with the Afghan people in response to the Taliban’s announcement. We support the brave Afghan security forces who are standing against the Taliban and terrorist groups that seek to destroy Afghan society. We commend the Afghan people, who are carrying on their lives, raising families, attending universities, building businesses, preparing for elections, and strengthening their communities despite violence and continued bloodshed.

As President Ghani recently said, the Taliban should turn their bullets and bombs into ballots. They should run for office. They should vote. We encourage Taliban leaders to return to Afghanistan from their foreign safe havens and work constructively for Afghanistan’s future. More violence will not bring peace and security to Afghanistan.

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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from Long War Journal – FDD's Long War Journal https://ift.tt/2I0tlpN
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State urges Taliban yet again to ‘run for office’ State urges Taliban yet again to ‘run for office’ Reviewed by Defense Alert on 07:54:00 Rating: 5

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