The Taliban can withstand U.S. President Donald Trump’s offensive to coerce the terrorists to lay down their arms and accept peace with the Kabul government, a commander loyal to the jihadist group argued to the Guardian.
The Guardian points out:
The Taliban was always outnumbered and technologically outmatched by its foreign adversaries, but is arguably at its strongest since 2001, threatening several provincial capitals. The movement, though, is divided, with some lower-ranking commanders backing rivals of the current chief, Mawlawi Haibatullah, or more radical outfits such as Islamic State [ISIS/ISIL]. But rifts have not stopped the group from advancing.
Mullah Abdul Saeed, a commander who leads 150 Taliban jihadists in Logar province, told the Guardian, “10-15 people join the mujahideen [in Logar] every day, sometimes also policemen.”
The Guardian report comes soon after the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), closely echoing a recent assessment by the Long War Journal, reported that predominantly Taliban terrorists control or contest 43 percent of Afghanistan and the 12 million who live the conquered area.
That means the Taliban controls or contests more land now than during any other time since the U.S. military removed its regime in late 2001.
More than one-third of the estimated 32.5 million Afghans who reside across Afghanistan live in the Taliban controlled territory.
As part of Trump’s new South Asia strategy, which primarily focuses on the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan, the commander-in-chief will increase the U.S. military footprint by about 4,000 to 11,000 troops to pressure the Taliban to engage in peace and reconciliation negotiations with the U.S.-backed Kabul government.
The new strategy also focuses on forcing Pakistan to stop harboring terrorists who are killing and maiming Americans and their allies in Afghanistan.
Nevertheless, Taliban Cmdr. Saeed indicated that his fellow jihadists can always change benefactors if Islamabad decides to abide by the U.S. demands—leaving Pakistan for Iran.
Various analysts have acknowledged the anti-American relationship between Iran and the Taliban.
The trove of documents linked to the late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden recently released by the CIA also provide evidence of the link between Iran and al-Qaeda, one of the Taliban’s most prominent allies.
“Many Taliban want to leave Pakistan for Iran. They don’t trust Pakistan anymore,” said the terrorist commander.
Referring to former U.S. President Barack Obama’s failed surge, Saeed told the Guardian, “150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us.”
The additional 4,000 troops that President Trump is expected to send into the ongoing Afghan battle “will not change the morale of our mujahideen [jihadists],” added the Taliban commander. “The Americans were walking in our villages, and we pushed them out.”
Cmdr. Saeed suggested that his fellow jihadists have been able to adapt to the record level of bombs the Trump administration has dropped on the Taliban and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) so far under his presidency.
Military data shows that the Pentagon has dropped at least 3,328 bombs on Taliban and ISIS jihadists so far in 2017, more than during any other full year since 2012.
“It’s true, it has become harder to fight the Americans. But we use suicide bombers, and we will use more of them,” noted Saeed. “If the U.S. changes its tactics of fighting, so do we.”
Taliban terrorists have also been able to generate hundreds of millions from the record-level cultivation and production of opium and its heroin derivative, a lucrative source of money that provides the group with more than 60 percent of its terrorist activity funding.
For years, the Taliban has refused to participate in peace talks with Kabul because it believes it is winning the war. That has apparently not changed.
As a precondition for negotiations, the Taliban insists on a complete withdrawal of U.S.-NATO-led foreign forces and the full implementation of sharia, or strict Islamic laws, which the international community refuses.
The Taliban has been behind the vast majority (about 65 percent) of the record 5,532 security incidents that took place from June 15 through August 31, 2017, notes SIGAR, citing the United Nations.
“Deaths and injuries to women and children rose 13 percent compared to the same period last year,” adds the inspector general.
The Taliban commander defended the Taliban’s attack on innocent civilians, dismissing the victims as sheep and claiming that the terrorists attempt to avoid harming them.
However, he added, “If there is an infidel in a flock of sheep, you are permitted to attack that flock of sheep.”
Furthermore, as the Trump administration escalates the war, Afghan and U.S. military casualties have also substantially increased, points out SIGAR.
Most of the territory held by the Taliban is at or near the Pakistan border, home to the majority of Afghan and U.S. military deaths and injuries since the war started in October 2001.
The U.S. has invested more than $714 billion in the ongoing war, but the enemy keeps conquering territory and fatalities keep rising.