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"Hope of the Nation" Reports the Taliban Falling Apart

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The internal strife within the Taliban and between their Al Qaeda and sometime Hezb-I Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) allies has been increasing as reported here and here.  As their insurgency wears on, the Afghan people themselves grow increasingly disenfranchised with their former rulers.  The Afghan Daily, Arman-E Melli (Hope of the Nation) published their views in a story entitled “The Taliban Do Not Have an Alternative to End the War”.  In the 9 January edition, published in Dari and Pashtun, they began by pointing out the sack of Mullah Mansur Dadollah by Mullah Omar, ostensibly the “Spiritual Leader” of the Taliban.

The Taliban leadership is facing serious challenges in enforcing its hard-line regulations inside its movement and junior Taliban members are no longer ready to abide by the order of Mullah Omar. The Taliban have practically split now.  The removal of Mullah Mansur Dadollah proves this claim. The split in the Taliban group is nothing new. Since its establishment, huge differences have always existed among Taliban members.  "The Taliban Do Not Have an Alternative to End the War." Arman-E Melli (Hope of the Nation) 09 JAN 08: 1

The sacking is believed to be in response to Dadollah’s meetings with the two expelled diplomats late last year.  Mullah Dadollah may be the highest ranking Taliban to contemplate switching sides but he is not the first.  Gulbuddin Hekmatyar recently issued a message to his Hezb-I Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) commanders, ordering them to cease attacks and begin cooperating with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.  Gulbuddin, himself a former Prime Minister of Afghanistan, still has ties to the Hezb-I Islami Afghanistan, one of the larger political parties in the country, and may feel his organization can re-unite with their lawful brethren.  The Taliban likewise smell defeat in the air but as Arman-E Melli notes, they have nowhere to turn as an organization.

The Taliban group, due to its nature, does not have any other way of assuring a climate free of worry for people except by destruction, killing and horror. The Taliban do not have any alternative to end the war and this group has always exploited the vulnerabilities of the people and targeted religion and faith through their double standards. This group has always treated people dictatorially. Beheadings, hanging without trial with the aim of influencing people and creating an atmosphere of horror for the dejected people of this land, are the basis of the psychological war of aliens which is being implemented by the Taliban. These are the destructive plans of the enemies. It has become clear that the indigenous people of Afghanistan are distancing themselves from the Taliban due to this group's inappropriate behavior and a vivid example is the people's cooperation with the government in retaking Musa Qala District. The people are now distancing themselves from the Taliban and openly expressing their hatred and disgust of the Taliban. "The Taliban Do Not Have an Alternative to End the War." Arman-E Melli (Hope of the Nation) 09 JAN 08: 1

Their lack of options, conflicting guidance from the various levels of command and their own individual greed are taking its toll on the organization.

The disobedience of low-ranking Taliban members towards their leadership can no longer remain hidden because Mullah Omar, after realizing that the people are fed up of beheadings by the Taliban, has ordered his commanders to shun this act. Mullah Omar meant that the Taliban should kill but not decapitate. However, his order was ignored and the Taliban commanders this time resorted to the beheading of women. The order of Mullah Omar, which was previously seen by the Taliban as decree, has now become ineffective.  Baitullah Mehsud describes himself as another Mullah Omar and weakens Omar's role in many cases.  Therefore, cause for worry, division and confusion has been created in different positions of the Taliban and this issue has caused disobediences, defiance and waywardness.  "The Taliban Do Not Have an Alternative to End the War." Arman-E Melli (Hope of the Nation) 09 JAN 08: 1

The recent Al Qaeda/Taliban inspired unrest in neighboring Pakistan has further weakened the Taliban in Afghanistan.  Recent analysis shows the Taliban militias in several eastern provinces have “ceased targeting Coalition and Government forces and are reduced to executing criminal activities” after their leadership disappeared, possibly arrested in Pakistan as President Musharraf and the Pakistani Military respond to the increased violence and attacks there. 

Colonel Martin Schweitzer reports 65 of 85 districts in his 4th Brigade Combat Team’s area of eastern Afghanistan are Pro Government as more and more of the citizens see and feel the progress being made.  The Afghan National Army, who has taken the lead in planning and conducting counter insurgency operations, also conducts regular meetings with village elders and district leaders.  These local leaders are expressing their disgust with the Taliban and their Al Qaeda supporters.  A short time ago Coalition Soldiers were cursed as “foreign fighters” now the tables have turned.  When a village elder talks of “foreign fighters demanding food, driving families out of their homes, using our wives and children to shield them from attacks” it is the Arabs, Chechens, Turks, the Al Qaeda members struggling to keep their Taliban allies under control and loyal to the cause.  Like their affiliate Al Qaeda in Iraq, Al Qaeda and their Taliban servants have betrayed their supporters, with out a population to provide a place to hide, food, water, medical care, their defeat draws ever closer.  As the insurgent organizations fight harder to remain relevant, as their tactics grow ever more violent, they find entire villages taking up arms against them, refusing them the food and shelter they need, the new roads the government has built now bring the Afghan National Army, capable of responding to insurgent activity or natural disasters like avalanches or flooding.  The roads also bring international money and aid organizations to build schools, power plants, clinics.  The insurgents along with the Afghan citizens have learned helicopters don’t only bring US Troops anymore, now they bring the ANA Commandos.  The knowledge that their own government and their own people are capable of providing them security is providing the single biggest step in the progress of Afghanistan since the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban.   

President Hamid Karzai has recently appointed Mullah Abdul Salaam, a former Taliban commander, as the Governor of the recently retaken Musa Qala District.  Salaam described his reasons for “defecting” in a conversation with US Ambassador William Wood. 

“Un-Islamic" trials were being carried out in Musa Qala on the orders of Pakistani and Chechen fighters…they were calling everyone Taliban who were not real Taliban. They should make a difference between real Taliban and drug users and smugglers," Salaam said. "This place (Musa Qala) was under the control of smugglers, drug dealers, and Islamic law was not implemented here."

Salaam joins a growing group of Afghan leaders who are “former” insurgents.  Ministers in Kabul, Provincial Governors, District Governors, Chiefs of Police and Army Commanders who, a few years or a few months ago were Taliban or HIG have found their own way out of the war, leaving their former organization behind.  These “former” insurgents, along with their “former” Mujahidin peers who make up the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan have formed the “Peace Convoy” and are aimed at converting even more insurgents.

"The aim (of the council) is national unity and holding talks with those Afghani Taliban who are upset with government," said Noor Agha Zwak, spokesman for the governor of the strategic eastern province of Nangarhar, Gul Agha Sherzai who is leading the effort.  The talks will be with those Taliban who have no links with al Qaeda and (will aim) to include them in the government."

In the past thirty years of war, against the Soviets, against each other, against the Taliban, it wasn’t the first time these former insurgents and former mujahidin had fought against each other.  It isn’t the first time they have been allies or worked together either.  It is the first time they have successfully brought progress and security to their fellow citizens and neighbors and it won’t be the last.


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