Posted by: hobbesonafob | August 1, 2009

Centralizing the Taliban

Al Jazeera has recently published an article that has captured my attention: The article reports that a “Taliban code of conduct” has been supposedly printed by the Taliban:

Al Jazeera has obtained a copy of the book, which further indicates that Mullah Omar, the movement’s leader, wants to centralise its operations…The book, with 13 chapters and 67 articles, lays out what one of the most secretive organisations in the world today, can and cannot do…The book makes it clear that it is the duty of every fighter to win over the local population…The book appears to be an attempt to bring all Taliban fighters under Mullah Omar’s control..”The mujahideen have to behave well and show proper treatment to the nation, in order to bring the hearts of civilian Muslims closer to them.”…”The mujahideen must avoid discrimination based on tribal roots, language or geographic background.”

Here’s the video

There are a few interesting points from this report. The first point I would like to address is that Mullah Omar is attempting to centralize the organization known as the Taliban  (if I remain vague as to who the “Taliban” is composed of, it is because I really don’t know myself – too many splinter groups and too little knowledge on my part).

The video on Al Jazeera reports that it is now forbidden to create new battalions of fighters, and “unofficial groups” that refuse to join the “formal structure” should be disbanded. It could be possible that Mullah Omar is attempting to position himself in a post-NATO intervention Afghanistan. Mullah Omar may have realized how diaphanous the state really is.

As well, the book discourages individuals from suicide bombing “lower and useless targets” and that civilian casualties should be avoided. Another interesting highlight from the book is that “Releasing prisoners in exchange for money is strictly prohibited.”

It seems that most of theses “edicts” are either for greater control over the organization or relate to winning the hearts and minds of the population. If this document is acted upon, it is safe to say that the Taliban are now initiating or aspiring to initiate their own population-centric strategies (although I sure this new branding won’t fly for other ethnicities in Afghanistan).

I wonder what happens when multiple groups compete for the hearts and minds of a population. I think part of the battle for both sides will be constructing narratives that the population will believe in: and a comparison of the general narratives for NATO, the GoA, and for the Taliban are in order.



  1. Seems that Gringo Lost found the AJ article interesting too:

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