Islamic Emirate Sparks Growing Chaos
By: Samad Payanda
A letter written by Al-Zawahiri, sheds light on the relationship between the Taliban and Al Qaeda since 2010. The letter, which was written prior to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, reveals that Al-Zawahiri wanted the Taliban to seize power through war, but was wary of negotiations that could allow the Taliban to take control of Afghanistan easily. Al-Zawahiri described the Taliban as a family of spies, traitors, and hypocrites, and his death has since justified his fears and predictions. An analysis of the letter could provide insight into the current relationship between the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
In the letter, Al-Zawahiri expressed his preference that Al Qaeda should not give up on Afghanistan under any circumstance, even if “spies, traitors, and hypocrites” lead negotiations with America. He wanted the Taliban to conquer Afghanistan through “coercive force” as it could lead to a bloody battle and benefit Al Qaeda. Al-Zawahiri had an ideal mental map of Afghanistan turning into a hell on earth, which would lead to further aggression from the U.S. and its allies and ultimately cause Muslims to prepare for universal jihad. However, Al-Zawahiri was aware that this dream was unlikely to come true as the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries would not sacrifice themselves for a caliphate in which Afghanistan would be an insignificant part.
Al-Zawahiri had proposed an alternative plan to his first one, which involved seizing power through negotiations led by Mullah Omar. This could be due to Mullah Omar’s commitment to protecting his Arab brothers, Al-Zawahiri’s personal relations with Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden, and Al Qaeda leaders, or Mullah Omar’s primitive views of politics. Al-Zawahiri noted that the Crusaders had failed to bind a contract with Mullah Omar many times.
Al-Zawahiri had a third proposal in mind in case his alternative plans failed. This agreement between the Taliban and Al Qaeda included measures on how to proceed with the plan in accordance with the current relationship between the two groups. Al-Zawahiri suggested that if the Taliban came to power through negotiation and assurance of limiting Al Qaeda’s activities, they would control the situation and not show any negative reaction. Instead, they would invest in a trust-building procedure to become worthy in the eyes of the Taliban’s “genuine leaders” so that they do not ban Al Qaeda’s activities. Al-Zawahiri also wrote that the Al Qaeda would not do anything that would destroy their relationship with the Taliban, and would continue its activities through private networks.
Al Qaeda has long been aware of the potential benefits of the Taliban’s conquest of power in Afghanistan, and the potential for a re-ignition of war in Pakistan. Despite not needing trust-building to have a haven, the terrorist organization is using Afghanistan’s soil to develop its jihadist plans, with the goal of training ideological leaders from among Afghans themselves. This mission could lead to the expansion of Al Qaeda’s influence in the country and the commencement of a new war.
In the letter, the leader of Al Qaeda, his views on the future of Afghanistan and Islam are outlined. He did not mention the welfare and comfort of the people of Afghanistan, instead focusing on the idea that the bigger the war, the more progress it would bring. This ideology was also present in a document released by Al Qaeda a year later, titled “Strategic Note; Al Qaeda’s Manifesto” and translated into Persian. In this statement, Al Qaeda described the Taliban as a rustic group with no ruling skills, claiming that they could only offer security to the nation.
The document states that the Taliban movement has not contributed to Afghanistan’s progress, development, economic growth or political standards, and instead relied on providing security to the nation. This allowed them to seize power in the first round, as foreign powers failed to reach a democratic agreement. The document further explains that the Taliban regime was created due to the failure of reaching a democratic agreement, which caused war, turmoil, and unrest, leading to mass migration and the world’s silence. This is particularly evident as the global power was no longer threatened by Russian penetration.
Al-Zawahiri has stated that the Taliban regime was created by global powers, not as a spontaneous jihadist force. He argued that the global powers needed to create a power with domestic characteristics, and the Taliban movement emerged as a result of the decreased threat of Russia’s penetration.
In a letter from Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, it was revealed that Al Qaeda jihadists do not approve of Taliban leaders who are involved in politics and are attempting to build a government in Afghanistan. Al-Zawahiri and other Al Qaeda leaders have labeled these leaders as hypocrites. However, they do accept those who are willing to risk the “Emirate” to save foreign “guests”. Al-Zawahiri’s interest in the Taliban’s “genuine leaders”, particularly Mullah Omar, is for political advantages rather than principles and ideologies. The term “Amir al-Mu’minin” in Al-Zawahiri’s letter is a reference to Mullah Muhammad Omar and the loyalty to follow his orders not for the sake of God, but as a political tactic.
Afghanistan has long been seen as a marginalized country, both by the Taliban and the rest of the world. This is evidenced by page 71 of Al Qaeda’s strategic note, which states that the U.S. withdrawal from the country would create “unfortunate and unstable circumstances” that could be used to benefit the jihadists’ war. Contrary to what the people of Afghanistan may believe, Al Qaeda strategists do not consider the country to be a sacred land, but rather a marginalized territory that has been the site of millions of “martyrs” due to decades of war.
The Al Qaeda strategists recently wrote that Afghanistan no longer requires the presence of Arabs, as they have seen the results of their efforts in the country over the past two decades. However, the conflict between the West and Al Qaeda continues, and Afghanistan is seen as the most appropriate battleground to fight America. The Al Qaeda has planted the seeds of jihad in the country, and the result of this is not peace and prosperity, but rather chaos. The year after the release of this strategic note, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen experienced painful and tragic events, and the Al Qaeda aims to reap the rewards of the hell they have created in these countries.
Al Qaeda strategists have identified Afghanistan, Somalia, and Yemen as regions with Islamic governments that are more favorable to their cause than other countries. According to a pamphlet from the organization, these countries are not affected by sanctions, economic crisis, or pressure from the Islamic Caliphate, and their citizens are so desperate for safety that they are willing to give up on education, freedom, and welfare. However, the insurgents have done nothing but create chaos in the twenty years since the republic government was established, making it difficult for Afghans to travel safely between home and work, village and market, and home and school. If the Taliban were honest in providing the only political commodity of security, this could be avoided.
Ayman al-Zawahiri’s letter and Abd Allah ibn Muhammad’s statement both emphasize the idea that a regime like the Taliban cannot become a successful government if the only benefit they can offer is safety. They both agree that the Taliban emirate will only lead to further chaos and destruction.