Mullah Mohammad Omar’s Eid al-Fitr Address for 2014

29 July 2014


IE of A

Message of Felicitation of Amir-ul-Momineen (may Allah protect him) on the Auspicious Eve of Eid-ul-fitr

It’s that time of year again! Muslims all over the world are celebrating the end of Ramadan with Eid al-Fitr, and Amir-ul-Momineen Mullah Mohammed Omar has issued his traditional statement for the holiday, which I have previously called the “state of the union address” for the Afghan Taliban. The address can be read in is entirety at the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) website: Message of Felicitation of Amir-ul-Momineen (may Allah protect him) on the Auspicious Eve of Eid-ul-fitr.

My past posts on Mullah Omar’s past Eid al-Fitr statements:

The Graveyard of Empires (2009)

Mullah Mohammad Omar’s Eid al-Fitr Address for 2010

Mullah Mohammad Omar’s Eid al-Fitr Address for 2011

Mullah Mohammad Omar’s Eid al-Fitr Address for 2012

Mullah Mohammad Omar’s Eid al-Fitr Address for 2013

This year’s statement is shorter than many of the previous statements, at only a little over 2,000 words. This message is not as well translated as previous messages. Past statements have been both systematic and comprehensive, and I guess I expected that, with the US scheduled to pull of Afghanistan this year, there would be another similarly comprehensive message to the people of Afghanistan outlining the principles and practices by which the Taliban expected to seize and hold power. And more than the US pullout, there is the big news of continuing instability in the region and the proclamation of a Caliphate by ISIS and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — certainly a development of some importance that touches upon regional dynamics that must affect the Taliban and their efforts in Afghanistan.

I have observed in previous posts that the Afghan Taliban are tightly focused on Afghanistan and have not associated themselves closely with radical Jihadist groups with transnational ambitions, which orientation seems to clearly be the case with ISIS and its concern to abrogate the Sykes-Picot borders that have defined the nation-states of the region since the agreement was struck (in secret) in 1916. The Taliban concern with specifically Afghan concerns comes across again in this most recent statement by Mullah Omar, who repeats assurances from previous statements that the IEA would respect established international borders and would not interfere in the internal affairs of other governments. That this point should be repeated at a time when ISIS is making a point of abrogating established borders is significant; it is as much as saying, “We are not ISIS.”

In line with this continuing theme of “Afghanistan for the Afghans” (as we may call it) is a particular interest in the official recognition of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Thus Mullah Omar states: “Exchange of the detainees with America as a result of the efforts of the representatives of the Political Office of the Islamic Emirate is a spectacular achievement.” Nothing else in the address is similarly celebrated as spectacular. Mullah Omar is especially concerned to de-legitimize the political process in Afghanistan, and shows a little lack of confidence in going over this ground a little more thoroughly than would have been necessary for a government-in-exile that expected to step into power almost unopposed upon the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. In particular, there is a concern that young people in Afghanistan will be drawn into the political processes, legitimizing through their participation. They are, after all, Afghans whom the Taliban claim to represent. If Afghans participate in elections, government, police, or security institutions, that demonstrates the ethnic legitimacy of these non-Taliban institutions.

By contrast, the other internal references to current events, i.e., current events outside Afghanistan — of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict he says, “swift steps should be taken to prevent these gruesome brutalities” (which sounds positively western in its banality and moderation), while of other “events and developments of the Middle East” Mullah Omar is even more opaque — are not nearly as spectacular as implicit recognition of the Taliban by the US.

While previous statements have been a grab-bag of ideological references and predictable rhetoric, this statement is much simpler and straight-forward. It is about establishing the Taliban as the ruling regime of the IEA, and that’s about it. The ambitious program of nation-building outlined in previous messages is here reduced to some passing exhortations and the mention of Taliban institutions of their presumptive government-in-waiting.

The Taliban are not quite seizing the opportunity expected to fall into their lap later this year when US forces are reduced or entirely withdrawn. The real enemy now becomes those Afghans who want a political order not of the Taliban. Once US forces are gone, or nearly gone, attacks on the institutions left in the wake of the US presence will be attacks on Afghans and their newly adopted institutions. This puts the Taliban in a difficult position, since they are not about transnational Jihadism or pan-Islamism, but only about a Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Mullah Omar is aware of this difficult at some level, and this may account for this year’s more modest message.

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Grand Strategy Annex

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One Response to “Mullah Mohammad Omar’s Eid al-Fitr Address for 2014”

  1. […] short and, well, dull, when compared to previous statements. It is broad, light and generalised.  There is some good analysis from Geopolicraticus here.  The word count clocks in at 2002 and compares against previous statements as […]

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