By Bill Roggio
April 12, 2019
The Taliban announced the commencement of its 2019 offensive, which it calls “Al-Fath Jihadi Operations.” Unlike in previous years, the Taliban does not prioritize attacks on US and NATO forces, but instead sets its crosshairs on those working for the Afghan government, military, and police. The statement is yet another clear indication that the Taliban will not share power with the Afghan government, but instead seeks to impose its will on the country.
The name of this year’s offensive, Al-Fath or Victory, indicates that the Taliban believes it will soon prevail in the 18 year long conflict against NATO and Afghan forces. The US government has signaled it is eager to cut a peace deal with the Taliban and is attempting to negotiate its exit, despite opposition from the Afghan government.
In its announcement of the commencement of Al-Fath Jihadi Operations, which was released today in English on its official website, Voice of Jihad, the Taliban signals that while the US and NATO are “extending occupation and preventing an Islamic system” or the harsh form of Taliban rule, the foreign forces are not the prime enemy. Unlike previous offensives, which the Taliban said US and NATO forces are the prime target, the Taliban focuses its ire on the Afghan government and security services.
“A key part of Al-Fath Operations is peeling away of countrymen serving in the military ranks of army, police and militias and being used by invaders for their own objectives,” the Taliban proclaims. The Taliban, which has been sensitive to its forces killing civilians, also claims it will prioritize the prevention of civilian casualties.
This is in stark contrast to the main goal of last year’s offensive (Al Khandaq Jihadi Operations), in which US forces were the “primary target”:
“Its primary target will be the American invaders and their intelligence agents. Their internal supporters will be dealt with as a secondary target while the present and future mischievous plots of the mischief-mongers will be nipped in the bud.”
In this year’s statement, the Taliban does say that “eradicating occupation, cleansing our Muslim homeland from invasion and corruption, establishing an Islamic system” were also goals of Al-Fath. But not the main goal.
The Taliban said it seeks to re-establish an “Islamic system” of governance five times in the statement. It also refers to itself four times as the “Islamic Emirate,” the name of the Taliban’s government when it ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
This is yet another clear sign that the Taliban’s goal is to retake full control of Afghanistan once US and NATO forces leave, and impose its harsh version of sharia or Islamic law on the Afghan people. The Taliban notes that US and NATO forces are “creating artificial barriers for a complete Islamic system”; once they are gone the obstacles to create that Islamic system will be removed. US officials, led by special representative for peace Zalmay Khalilzad have indicated that the Taliban is willing to participate in a coalition government, however the Taliban has been explicit that it would not do so. Today’s statement is further confirmation of this fact.
Another goal of Al-Fath is that “large areas including townships and other centers shall be cleansed from enemy presence.” The Taliban has slowly but methodically increased its influence across Afghanistan, with over 60 percent of Afghanistan’s districts contested or controlled.
The Taliban also went out of its way to insult the Afghan government, referring to it as “domestic mercenaries,” “the Kabul administration,” “the ranks of falsehood” and “evil elements.”
Taliban’s statement on Al Fath Jihadi Operations, from Voice of Jihad:
Statement of Islamic Emirate regarding inauguration of Al-Fath Jihadi Operations
Our believing countrymen and Mujahid brothers!
Armed Jihad has been ongoing against the foreign invaders and their supporters for the past eighteen years in our homeland Afghanistan.
This Jihadi struggle is yet another proud chapter in the history of Islam and Afghanistan that guarantees the welfare, values, sovereignty and honor of our future generations and holds the keys to our spiritual survival.
If our nation had desisted from raising their Jihadi swords against the British, Soviets and current American invaders, today we would have also been like other colonized nations deprived of honor and self-determination and our future generations would have been led astray and alien to our own faith. But it is the Divine Mercy of Allah (SwT) on our people that He bestowed success upon us in these testing times, blessed our nation with the strength to combat and resist the invaders and rescued us from everlasting spiritual decline and downfall.
Our Jihadi obligation has not yet ended. Even as large parts of our homeland have been freed from the enemy yet the foreign occupying forces continue exercising military and political influence in our Islamic country. They not only maintain political control of our homeland but daily bomb our fellow countrymen from large military bases, carry out raids with the aid of their domestic mercenaries, inflict human and material losses and oppress our people in a multitude of ways.
Moreover, they used the Kabul administration to continue killing Afghans, extending occupation and preventing an Islamic system by announcing Khalid military operations on 1st Hammal 1398 (Hijri Solar). This itself bears testimony that the enemy still seeks to attain its malicious objectives through the use of force and is creating artificial barriers for a complete Islamic system.
As defending one’s religion, homeland, life, property and honor is compulsory and complete independence of an Islamic country from the clutches of foreign occupation a Jihadi obligation hence for the fulfilment of this responsibility, the Islamic Emirate declares Al-Fath Jihadi Operations with the arrival of the new solar year and draws attention to the following points:
– Orders of coordinated launch of Al-Fath Operations throughout the country have been given and as intentions are the basis of all worship, all Mujahideen brothers are requested to launch the Jihadi Operation with complete sincerity and pure intentions. Your objective should solely be for gaining the pleasure of Allah (SwT) by eradicating occupation, cleansing our Muslim homeland from invasion and corruption, establishing an Islamic system along with defending and serving our believing fellow countrymen.
– Mujahideen are required to observe the principles of obedience during Al-Fath Operations. Your Jihadi actions should conform to Jihadi rule books and in the light of guidance of your superiors. All decrees and recommendations issued by the Military Commission and other related departments of the Islamic Emirate should be strongly adhered to, be they related to daily Jihadi activities or other affairs such as prevention of civilian casualties, precautionary measures, regulations, internal-coordination and ethics.
– As (all praise belongs to Allah) the Mujahideen possess unbreakable Jihadi determination and benefit from armed experience, new tactics, public support, influence inside enemy ranks and advanced weapons therefore we are hopeful that with Help from Allah (SwT), large areas including townships and other centers shall be cleansed from enemy presence. Mujahideen brothers must protect themselves from treachery, theft, treason and other prohibited actions in Jihadi affairs. Protecting lives and property of fellow countrymen and guarding public reserves and welfare projects are also part of your responsibilities.
– A key part of Al-Fath Operations is peeling away of countrymen serving in the military ranks of army, police and militias and being used by invaders for their own objectives. The Islamic Emirate prefers that they protect their lives and wealth by joining the ranks of truth (Islamic Emirate) instead of dying in the ranks of falsehood. On this basis we again call on troops working in enemy ranks to shun senseless hostility and futile resistance, to join the Mujahideen and gain guarantees of safeguarding life and wealth.
– To end we call on our Mujahideen brothers to inaugurate Al-Fath Operations with complete seriousness, sincerity, trust, lofty resolve and high spirits and heal the hearts of the believers yearning for peace and an Islamic system with waves of spirit-raising conquests. Understand that we are followers of truth and Al-Fath (Victory) is always bestowed upon the truthful. Keeping in mind the promises of Allah (SwT), the day is near that the Jihadi aspirations of our martyrs, wounded, prisoners, migrants and oppressed people are fulfilled, an Islamic system established and our homeland cleansed from American occupation and evil elements through ultimate Al-Fath (Victory).
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.