Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mullah Omar says Afghan Taliban close to victory

Taliban leader Mullah Omar says his fighters are winning the war in Afghanistan and that the Nato-led campaign has been "a complete failure". In a rare statement, the shadowy leader called on US President Barack Obama to withdraw his troops "unconditionally and as soon as possible".

Nato has boosted its presence in Afghanistan to 150,000 soldiers in a bid to finally defeat militants. However, the US has set July 2011 to begin withdrawal, if conditions allow.

Critics of the move say it has emboldened the Taliban. Mullah Omar's statement, which marked the end of the Muslim festival of Ramadan, was posted on jihadist websites and relayed by the Site Intelligence Group.

"The victory of our Islamic nation over the invading infidels is now imminent and the driving force behind this is the belief in the help of Allah and unity among ourselves," he said.

"In the time to come, we will try to establish an Islamic, independent, perfect and strong system."

He claimed that those behind the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan which overthrew the Taliban "admit themselves that all their strategies are nothing but a complete failure".

He also commanded his fighters to observe the Taliban's code of conduct and avoid harming civilians.

Spiritual head

Mullah Omar is still considered the spiritual head of the Taliban in Afghanistan, although others are believed to be in day-to-day command of the hardline movement.

He has not been seen in public for years and is believed to be hiding in Pakistan.

President Obama ordered a further 30,000 US troops to Afghanistan last December following a review of the war.

Gen David Petraeus, who commands US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, said last month he saw "areas of progress" in the war and that momentum by the militants had been checked in their strongholds of Kandahar and Helmand.

He has made winning civilian hearts and minds a key part of his strategy to defeat the Taliban.

However, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said that civilian casualties were undermining the counter-insurgency in his country.

He also said that US plans to begin withdrawing troops next year have given the Taliban "a morale boost".


No comments: