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Can the Taliban really distance themselves from al-Qaida?

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The Taliban have always been adept communicators. Their latest effort – Statement of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan on the Occasion of the Eighth Anniversary of the American Attack on Afghanistan – was posted on one of several websites they regularly use. Then it was emailed – in English – to individuals and organisations that the movement specifically wanted to reach. This is normal practice for any press officer for a government, NGO or major retailer anywhere in the world.

It is unclear whether the statement represents a genuine shift in position or a clever attempt to influence an ongoing debate. It could of course be both. The Taliban stand to benefit even if they are not serious, as their intervention will fuel the increasingly acrimonious and muddled debate on Afghan strategy in the west and the public disillusionment with the war. Or they will gain if the statement is taken seriously and they are genuinely interested in repositioning themselves as independent from al-Qaida.

There is no doubt the Taliban monitor western public opinion and are capable of manipulating the media. But whether they could split away from al-Qaida is unclear. Some strong personal ties have developed between key figures on both sides – such as between Mullah Muhammad Omar and Osama bin Laden – and a few specialists from al-Qaida have helped the insurgents inside Afghanistan. But al-Qaida is still almost entirely composed of Arabs from core Middle Eastern countries and the Maghreb, while the Taliban are predominantly Pashtun Afghan.

Equally, since the 1990s there have always been tensions between the international agenda of al-Qaida and the domestic agenda of the Taliban. Bin Laden was not invited to Afghanistan by the Taliban as so often said but by three warlords who opposed them. In 2001 Omar chose to sacrifice power rather than give up his guest, but currently Bin Laden is, like Omar, probably in Pakistan. So the question is framed rather differently.

This latest statement is heavy with rhetoric evoking a very nationalist version of Islamism – or perhaps a very Islamist version of nationalism. "This is … a war between the western colonialism and the freedom-loving nationalist and Islamist forces … the one side have before them expansionism, colonialism and exploitation … the other side of the war have their objective of independence, Islamic social justice, human dignity and national identity."

There is a reference to "the country of the proud and pious Afghans" and few to any other conflicts. None of this is necessarily incompatible with today's strike against the Indian embassy. The Indians are local enemies of the Taliban rather than enemies because the insurgents are an integral part of any global jihadi movement. The statement is part of a growing trend towards the local rather than the global across the whole of radical Islamic militancy. It is possible that the Taliban are travelling in a different direction from their counterparts in Iraq, Algeria, Indonesia or Pakistan, but it would be surprising.


Refusing to use the spellchick!

I have put you on ignore. No really, I have, but you are still ruining my enjoyment of this site. .

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Thailand

yeah, we should get out and stop trying to colonialize other nations. Historically people and governments we've propped up have become our sworn enemies screwing us over in the end. BinLaden, Noriega, on and on...we support them then we turn on them once we help them attain the proper amount of weapons and power.

The US can be incredibly stoopid

7/21/08 I 129f K-1 app given to Siam Legal Lawyers office

8/3/08 K-1 I 129f Sent (Atty Ofc made mistake delayed app, we learned later)

8/14/08 NOA-1

1/23/09 RFE Color Passport Picture

1/29/09 RFE Color Pics sent

2/3/09 RFE Pics USCIS acknowledged

4/28/09 NOA-2

5/01/09 NVC Received

5/01/09 Left NVC

5/15/09 Embassy Sent Packet 3 (we did not receive-they have correct addresses)

6/19/09 Packet 3 to Embassy

6/28/09 Appointment (packet 4) never mailed, had to ask to get email-they've got correct addresses

7/23/09 Interview Scheduled for 7:00am (A YEAR AFTER SUBMISSION)!!!!!!!!!!! APPROVED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7/28/09 Pick up visa

8/11/09 She came to the USA with me!

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