The New York Times reports: Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s one-eyed leader, seems to have taken a page from George W. Bush’s playbook.
Just as the former president declared “mission accomplished” in Iraq years before the war there ended, the Taliban made their own victory declaration this weekend, even though roughly 130,000 coalition troops were still fighting in Afghanistan — and keeping the Afghan government firmly in power.
No matter, suggested the Taliban, which calls itself the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, in a statement bluntly titled: “Formal Proclamation of Islamic Emirate’s Victory.” The American push to open talks is proof that the insurgents are winning, the Taliban reasoned.
“It is but sheer determination, religious and ideological adherence and unequalled sacrifices displayed by true Afghan Mujahid nation for the last decade that today regional and world powers are after to reach mutual understanding about the country,” the statement said in the Taliban’s typically fractured English.
The coalition declined to comment on the Taliban’s statement.
Most American and Afghan officials would surely dispute the Taliban’s logic. But taken as a statement of intent, the Taliban’s declaration offers an instructive glimpse into their thinking. For them, a seat across the table from the Americans – and, if a settlement is reached, a formal role in the Afghan government — may be the victory they’ve been fighting for.