Afghanistan’s next presidential elections have been scheduled for 20 August 2009, and Taliban’s media committee has already started its campaign. That is, a campaign to discredit the election process and defame its candidates. President Karzai is the most popular target, but the others are also starting to receive their portion of insults. This is of course in line with Taliban’s broader media campaign, described in detail in this International Crisis Group report.
The headlines in last months’ issues of al-Sumud are telling enough: The March issue featured an article entitled “The coming presidential elections, or an agreement to sell Afghanistan to the occupiers?” The May issue followed suit with a similar rhetorical question: “Will the replacement of Karzai with another agent solve the Afghan problem?” In both articles, the line of argumentation is simple: As long as foreign troops are present in Afghanistan, there can never be free and fair elections. The outcome is controlled by the Americans, and whoever will be elected will act as a US “puppet” just like his predecessor.
According to the Taliban, the solution is equally simple: Expel the “occupiers” first, and talk politics later. For those who have followed Taliban’s official propaganda this is not very surprising. Ever since the start of the insurgency in Afghanistan, the Taliban’s leadership has, at least officially, consistently refused to make any kind of compromises with the Afghan regime, let alone taking part in the democratic process.
It remains to be seen whether and how these signals from the Taliban leadership will translate into actual action on the ground. The above-mentioned articles do not contain any details in this regard. In general, the aim of Taliban’s propaganda is not to discuss or suggest effective strategies to defeat the enemy, but rather, to project a worldview where Taliban’s victory is already seen as inevitable.
But the “war of words” is one thing, the war on the ground is a different matter.