The Taliban, in a Ramadan message, says President Donald Trump’s administration would be “making a mistake” by increasing the U.S. military footprint in Afghanistan, vowing to keep fighting until the United States-led coalition leaves.
Taliban chief Maulavi Haibatullah Akhunzadah issued the message Friday, ahead of the annual Muslim festival of Eid ul Fitr that marks the end of Ramadan on Saturday.
The fugitive Taliban chief declared: “If you think that you may break our determination with your military presence and surge of troops, you are making a mistake! This is not the solution of the issue to continue your occupation on the request of the inept administration of Kabul.”
President Donald Trump’s administration is planning to deploy up to an additional 4,000 American troops to join the 8,400 already in Afghanistan in response to the worsening quagmire in the country he inherited from his predecessor.
Akhunzadah claimed the deployment of additional U.S. troops would further fuel the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.
U.S.-NATO-led foreign troops are “the main obstacle in the way of peace in Afghanistan,” he said, claiming that the Taliban would maintain a relationship with the United States if it were to withdraw its troops from the nation.
“Whenever your illegitimate occupation of Afghanistan comes to an end, the Islamic Emirate [the Taliban] has a comprehensive policy to maintain constructive and good relations with you and the world,” proclaimed the jihadi leader.
In an apparent reference to alleged support from Russia, Iran, China, and Pakistan, Akhunzadah said, “The mainstream entities of the world admit its [Taliban’s] effectiveness, legitimacy, and success.”
The Taliban controls or contests 35 percent of Afghanistan, a recent assessment by the Pentagon shows. Iran, China, and Pakistan share a border with the country.
Echoing previous statements, the Taliban indicated that the U.S.-NATO forces must leave the country before it engages in any peace negotiations with the Afghan government.
Consistent with previous years, the Afghan Taliban has been behind a wave of attacks during the holy month, leaving scores of people dead and wounded.
At the beginning of Ramadan, Zabihullah Mujahid, an official spokesman for the Taliban, described jihad during holy month as “obligatory worship.”
— Long War Journal (@LongWarJournal) May 30, 2017
During Ramadan, most Muslims abide by the tradition of abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking, having sex, and other physical needs each day, starting from before the break of dawn until sunset.
Nevertheless, many extremists perceive Ramadan as a time when martyrdom and jihad are especially rewarded in paradise, a belief that prompts a spike in terrorist attacks during the period every year.
Islamic extremist groups such as the Taliban encourage martyrdom among their sympathizers and followers, promoting the belief that they will be doubly rewarded if they fatally castigate infidels during the holy month.
The recent Taliban message follows a deadly suicide car bombing Thursday claimed by the terrorist group in its stronghold in Helmand province that left at least 34 people dead and about 60 others wounded.
Taliban jihadists targeted Afghan troops and government workers in Helmand’s provincial capital waiting to collect their pay ahead of the Ramadan holiday on Saturday.
The Associated Press (AP) notes:
In the Taliban message this year, the militant leader seemed to harden his stance, saying the [U.S.-backed] Afghan government is too corrupt to stay on and warning of another civil war in Kabul — along the lines of the 1992 fighting when mujahideen groups threw out the Communist government in Afghanistan and turned their guns on each other. That conflict killed more than 50,000 civilians and gave rise to the Taliban.
While the Taliban claims it is waging war only against the Kabul government and not targeting civilians, most of the dead in Thursday’s attack and many others have been civilians, including women and children.