The Afghan Taliban's new leader Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada said Saturday, in his first ever message for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr, that peace is only a possibility if foreign ‘invaders’ leave Afghanistan and an ‘Islamic system’ is installed in the country.
The Taliban leader's Eid messages are comparable to the State of the Union addresses in the US, serving to establish policies and set the tone for months to come.
Akhundzada's ‘clear message’ to the US, which leads counter-terrorism efforts against the group was that ‘resorting to extending the time of presence of your soldiers or of increasing military rule of engagement,’ will not frustrate the Taliban's effort in fighting.
Although the NATO combat mission ended in 2014, orders approved by US President Barrack Obama last month allow a broader US role against the Afghan insurgency, including more airstrikes, but no additional boots on the ground.
‘Jihad is an obligation to drive out the invaders,’ said Haibatullah, signalling the continuation of the war in Afghanistan just like his predecessor Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansoor, who was killed in a US drone strike in southern Baluchistan of Pakistan in May.
‘Islamic Emirate has a clear political policy aimed at ending the occupation,’ said Haibatullah, using the former name of Afghanistan under Taliban control.
The leader added that the group ‘does not want monopoly of power,’ and the Afghan government must abandon its support of foreign ‘invaders’ and live under Islamic Sharia law.
The statement comes just two days after a double suicide bombing in Kabul killed over 30 police cadets and wounded 78 others.
While in the past the Taliban showed some signs of allowing women a modern education, the new leader has returned to enforcing women's ‘rights as per Sharia’ law. At the time of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, this meant no education for girls at all.
Peace deals with the Taliban failed after news of the death of their late supreme leader Mullah Omar surfaced last year and efforts to revive the deal by the quadrilateral coordination group consisting of Afghanistan, Pakistan, United States and China have so far failed.
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