Thursday, September 22, 2005

Taliban To Step Up War In Afghanistan

The Taliban vowed on Wednesday to step up their holy war against foreign troops in Afghanistan and dismissed legislative polls held at the weekend as an American drama rejected by the Afghan people.
The UN vote organisers said about half of the 12 million registered Afghans voted in Sunday’s national assembly and provincial council polls, which were hailed by Kabul’s allies as step forward for democracy. Taliban spokesman Abdul Latif Hakimi said only four million had voted, less than 15 percent of a population he put at 30 million. “The Afghan parliament will be a subordinate body of the United States,” he told Reuters from an undisclosed location. “This institution does not represent Afghan people ... the Taliban are thankful to the Afghan people for rejecting the US drama.” The Taliban enjoyed the support of 85 percent of Afghans, Hakimi said, and added: “Our jihad (holy war) will continue until the withdrawal of foreign infidel troops and our attacks will be expedited. The Taliban will become more organised and strong.” Hakimi said Taliban defectors who took part in the election had nothing to do with the guerrilla group. Four defectors stood for seats, including former foreign minister Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil and Mawlavi Qalamuddin, a former minister for the Taliban’s notorious religious police. Hakimi’s comments came after President Hamid Karzai declared on Tuesday that a democratic Afghanistan was no longer a source of terrorism, and that the US military should stop air strikes and invasive searches in their hunt for militants.
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai
Karzai has been trying without much success to coax Taliban fighters to defect and his comments appeared aimed at wooing support in the Taliban’s and his own ethnic Pashtun heartland. The Taliban had vowed to derail the polls but failed to do so despite a wave of violence in the months ahead of the vote which killed more than 1,000 people, most of them insurgents. The insurgents launched dozens of harassing attacks at the weekend in which 14 people died, but election organisers said voting took place at all but a handful of 6,200 polling centres. Civilian deaths in US air strikes and what have been perceived as heavy-handed US military searches in the south and east have angered many in the conservative region where the Taliban have traditionally drawn most support. Karzai’s remarks came after the commander of US-led forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant-General Karl Eikenberry, said more fighting was likely in coming weeks and his force would stay on the offensive this autumn and winter. On Tuesday, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appeared to agree with Karzai’s comments on the efficacy of air strikes. “Obviously, air strikes - when you don’t have a massed army on the ground or large puddles of enemies, then air strikes are less effective than when you do have that type of a situation,” he told a Pentagon news conference.
Ayman Al Zawahri & Ossama Ben Laden
Bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, denounced the polls as a ‘farce’ in a video broadcast on Monday. He insisted the Taliban were still strong and US forces had to ‘hide’ in their bases.