AFGHANISTAN: Taliban respond extensively to Obama administration's war strategy review
Unlike the shadowy insurgents of Iraq, the Afghan Taliban have a very sophisticated and fast-moving media operation that has already issued a detailed response to the much-anticipated review of American strategy in the Afghanistan war issued on Thursday.
As expected, the Taliban gave the Obama administration's review, covered by the Los Angeles Times, and its timing a big thumbs down.
"Obama unveils review of the strategy in a time that they left no stone unturned in Afghanistan to beef up the occupation, but all their efforts have failed," a message e-mailed to reporters in Kabul said.
"Now he has come with the review of the strategy to present it before the American public and the public of the world in an effort to distract the attention from his failed strategy; to buoy up a new hope and keep people occupied in illusory expectations."
The strategy review, the the message said, "proves that his last year’s strategy, with all other overseas schemes, have faced frustration and failure because the substance of these schemes and strategy do not coincide with the ground realities in Afghanistan."
The Taliban said the U.S. strategy amounted to shuffling the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.
"The past nine years have showed that the foreign troops surge and emphasis on the military approach is a failed replica for achievement of victory by the foreign occupation in Afghanistan, which has never been in a position to play a role in transformation of the status quo in the country," the Taliban said. "This is the hard fact which Obama has also conceded, though indirectly, by resorting to reviewing the strategy."
It noted that "thousands" had demonstrated against the war in front of the White House, and that U.S. intelligence agencies in separate reports "had expressed concern about American military setbacks in Afghanistan."
It called the Obama administration's claims of progress in "some undisclosed areas of Afghanistan" vague. " All know that the ground realities are contrary to what he claims," the statement said.
Not only have military efforts been a failure, so too have efforts to shore up Afghanistan's institutions and the government of President Hamid Karzai, the Taliban insisted.
"The Obama strategy for Afghanistan not only has failed in the military field but has had no achievement at the civilian and administration level," it said.
"In view of common Afghans, the strategy has only resulted in helping the puppet Karzai government remain in power, spread corruption, insecurity, grievances, incompetence of officials, killings of thousands of civilians during American operations." the statement said. "These are the consequences of the strategy."
The planned draw-down of U.S. troops, to begin in the middle of next year, "is the bitter consequences which the American people are grappling with after losing thousands of American soldiers and spending hundreds of billions of dollars."
The Taliban, which ruled much of the country with a bloody fist until they were ousted by U.S.-led forces in 2001, vowed that "peace and stability will not return to Afghanistan unless and until all foreign forces pull out of the country."
"The unremitting continuation of foreign interference will pave the way for more casualties and destruction," the statement read. "The foreigners should start the withdrawal of the occupying forces now — a task which they would have to do ultimately at a later stage. Thus they will save themselves from the heavy losses in life and equipment which they are facing as a result of the war of Afghanistan."
That way, "the oppressed and miserable people of Afghanistan will also find salvation from the illegitimate invasion and atrocities of America. This is the mechanism of the solution."
Photo: Taliban insurgents in Pakistan in 2005. Credit: Reuters