Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

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Soldierless Jihad: How the Withdrawal Undermines the Taliban’s Case for War

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Foreign Affairs, 26 July 2013
The Afghan Taleban movement might become the victim of its own propaganda, writes Michael Semple in his latest piece for Foreign Affairs magazine. Reporting meetings at the funeral of a killed Taleb from a prominent Paktia family that took place in a Pakistani city and summarising discussions held there, he argues that with the withdrawal of NATO combat troops the movement’s raison d’etre of fighting a ‘foreign occupation’ might vanish, while attacks on Afghan forces will increase, a notion that even many sympathisers of the Taleban might find unattractive; this would put the post-2014 Taleban on a morale level with those mujahedin groups that led the country into another round of intra-Afghan fightings after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. But Semple also lists reasons that might lead to a continuation of fighting anyway, for example that their self-styling as ‘the Emirate’ (and its claim of leadership for the Amir ul-Momenin) will lead the movement into even deeper conflict with other armed factions and that ‘when faced with difficult dilemmas, the Taliban tend to fall back on following their leaders, no matter the course’.