Taliban risks squandering any kudos

 

Share
Related Topics

Afghan insurgents have launched suicide attacks every two or three days throughout the 2013 “fighting season”. Today four more young Afghans staked their claim to paradise or fame by blowing themselves up, after a fire-fight, on the outer perimeter of the Presidential Palace.

The Taliban Movement uses such attacks to boost its claims to be fighting foreign occupation. Previous targets have included the Bagram and Kabul military airbases and US military trainers. Movement propagandists will make much of the few pot-shots that today's attackers took at the Ariana Hotel, which Afghans consider to be CIA headquarters. The Movement also uses high profile attacks to create an impression of military momentum. Commanders tell their fighters that next year, after NATO withdrawal and the collapse of the Kabul government, Taliban will be playing cricket in Chaman Hazoori, the ground outside Kabul's main stadium.

The Taliban spokesman was quick to point out that they are not on ceasefire and are entitled to conduct conduct attacks, despite having opened an office in Qatar. They are pursuing a “fight and talk” strategy. Indeed one strand of Taliban thinking about the office is that it is a chance to develop a political profile commensurate with their profile on the battlefield. The problem for the Taliban is that, despite the spectaculars, they have little realistic prospect of toppling the Afghan government by force. After all, Tuesday's attackers were soon dead and Kabul life returned to normal. It is far from clear that the Taliban's military activities serve their political ambitions. Despite Taliban claims of fighting occupation, most of their operations are now directed at fellow Afghans, like their mine-laying in the villages of Southern Afghanistan and the recent attack on the personnel of the Supreme Court.

Thinking Taliban realise that claims to be fighting against occupation are increasingly hollow as international troops are leaving. By persisting in a military campaign against fellow Afghans the Movement risks disqualifying itself from political talks. The Spokesman was technically about the ceasefire. But Taliban would be well advised to end hostilities before they squander whatever kudos they may have claimed through the military resistance to international presence in Afghanistan. Meanwhile the challenge for the US and Afghan government in approaching talks with the Taliban is to ensure that they are talking to those in the Movement who really have worked out that the time for the Taliban military campaign has passed. Then rather than scoring propaganda points off each other they can get on with implementing a ceasefire and preventing the slide towards another civil war.

Michael Semple is a scholar and practitioner focused on conflict resolution in Afghanistan and South Asia. He is a Senior Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School and has previously worked for the European Union and United Nations

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

 

Ed Miliband's conference speech must show Labour has a head as well as a heart

Patrick Diamond
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments