Tue, Nov 16, 2010 - Page 9 News List

Nine years on, the Taliban has message for West

As one analyst said, the Taliban are showing ‘considerable prowess in the arts of propaganda,’ as it synchronizes its insurgency with political events at home and abroad in an attempt to return to power nine years after its fall

By Sayed Salahuddin  /  Reuters, KABUL

“The Taliban show considerable prowess in the arts of propaganda,” said Matt Waldman, an analyst at Harvard University who has been in contact with the Taliban and was a security adviser for the British and European parliaments.

“Their most important statements seek to mobilize Afghan support for the Taliban, and increasingly, to undermine Western support for the war and counter concerns about the movement,” Waldman said.

Among the most important of recent political messages was one attributed to the Afghan Taliban’s reclusive, one-eyed leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, in September.

It assures Afghans of good governance, a Taliban government run by a consultative body based on “talent and honesty” and spoke of unity and the rights of tribes and women.

During their austere five years in power, the Taliban denied women the right to work outside the home and made them wear the all-enveloping burqa, drawing wide international criticism.

Omar’s message even spoke of the need to address pollution and to combat the trade in illegal drugs. Afghanistan produces 90 percent of the world’s opium used to produce heroin, an illicit trade that helps fund the insurgency.

The Taliban also criticize Afghan President Hamid Karzai for what they say is the endemic corruption in his government. The West argues that corruption inhibits the growth of state institutions and aids the insurgency.

The Taliban’s last message was addressed to the US Congress last weekend, when Obama was in India, after Obama’s Democrats suffered major reversals in US midterm elections.

“Will you be able to obtain your long-term goals in the region only through the war in Afghanistan?” it asked.

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