Thursday, March 13, 2008

A shift in Taliban attitudes?

Taliban spokespeople have lately signaled changes in the insurgents' policies:

Taliban urge factions to fight foreign forces

By Sayed Salahuddin

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan's Taliban Islamic movement has urged the war-torn nation's former mujahideen factions to join it in their campaign to drive out foreign forces from the country.

The Taliban appeal follows complaints by some mujahideen leaders about being sidelined from President Hamid Karzai's government they brought to power by helping U.S.-led forces with the overthrew of the Taliban in 2001. ...

"Now, it is necessary that [mujahidin] stand beside their people and the nation and show their sacrifice once again against this invasion...the Islamic Emirate will adopt a understanding path with them and keep its bosom open for them," the statement said. ...

The Taliban said they wanted good ties with the world, adding their fight was only to liberate their country from U.S.-led forces.

"If countries allied to America end the occupation of Afghanistan and pull out their troops, then Afghans will not view them as enemies like America." ... (link)
Radio Free Europe's Ron Synovitz adds more to this development:
Afghanistan: Al-Qaeda Bloggers' Sparring With Taliban Could Signal Key Differences

By Ron Synovitz

Islamic extremists who regularly post messages to a pro-Al-Qaeda website in Egypt are accusing Afghanistan's Taliban of straying from the path of global jihad. Prominent Taliban have responded by lashing back with criticism of their own.

The development suggests a rift is emerging between the Taliban leadership and religious extremists in the Arab world ...

Internet criticisms of the Taliban follow a February statement from Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar announcing that his movement wants to maintain positive and "legitimate" relations with countries neighboring Afghanistan.

Mullah Omar, who heads a Taliban leadership council that was purportedly formed in 2003, also has said that the Taliban is exploring the possibility of holding peace negotiations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government.

"We want to have legitimate relations with all countries of the world," Mullah Omar's statement said. "We are not a threat to anyone. America believes that the Taliban is a threat to the whole world. And with this propaganda, America wants to use all other countries to advance their own interests."

Pro-Al-Qaeda bloggers who were angered by Mullah Omar's statement were further outraged in early March when the Taliban expressed solidarity with Iran by condemning the latest round of sanctions imposed on Tehran by the UN Security Council over its nuclear activities. ...

One of those bloggers -- who calls himself "Miskeen" or "The Wretched" -- responded to the Taliban declaration on Iran by writing: "... [T]he disaster of defending the [Iranian] regime is on par with the Crusaders in Afghanistan and Iraq."

... "Miskeen" also wrote that a "nationalist trend" appears to be penetrating the Taliban. Other pro Al-Qaeda bloggers have called for Al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri to censure the Taliban over their recent statements. ... (link)
It seems there is also new developments in the Pakistani Taliban:
Pakistani Taliban commander sets demands to halt militancy
Mar 13, 2008

The Pakistani Taliban has offered in a recent telephone conversation to lay down arms if President Pervez Musharraf quits, his policies are reviewed and Islamic laws are enforced in Pakistan.

In an exclusive telephone interview with Kyodo News, a spokesman for Taliban Commander Baitullah Mehsud said the Taliban launched their struggle because of the ''wrong'' policies of Musharraf, particularly in Pakistan's tribal areas.

''We have said it loud and clear that the wrong policies of government must be abandoned, Musharraf should be removed and Islamic laws enforced. These three things will guarantee that we will stop our struggle,'' spokesman Mullah Omar said. ... (link)

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