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Taliban announce “Spring operations”

April 22, 2015

Summary: The Taliban’s official announcement that the annual Spring operations will commence on Friday 24th April.  In a routine and predictable statement, the Taliban urge additional efforts against Western and Afghan government military and official personnel while promising to avoid causing civilian casualties and never to target religious and educational institutions.

The Taliban website has just started to carry the Leadership Council’s official announcement that Spring Operations will commence on Friday 24th April.

20150422, Taliban word cloud

The Spring offensive – a resumption of more sustained military activities – generally heralds the start of the annual “fighting season” stretching from April/May to October/November in which operations are not hampered by the cold weather.

Taliban flagThe title of this year’s operations is “Azm” or “Resolve” and the Taliban also link the choice of date for the announcement to the battle of Yarmouk, a decisive “victory for early Muslims”, in the year 636.

Treading a well-worn path (official announcements began in 2008), the Taliban declaration highlights the need to continue the Jihad and singles out Western forces (“their permanent bases, their intelligence and diplomatic centers”) and Afghan security and government personnel (“especially their intelligence, interior ministry and defense ministry officials”) as their primary targets.  Tactics offered are similarly a repeat of previous years: “martyrdom” (ie suicide) attacks, “infiltration” (ie “Green on Blue”, “insider” or dressing as Afghan security members), “heavy and long-range missiles” and “guerrilla attacks in all major cities”.

A paragraph is dedicated to explaining that the Taliban will not target civilians, neither will they target mosques or schools,  Any mujahideen transgressor will be punished according to Sharia.

There is a small suggestion that NGOs, perhaps the Red Cross, might be permitted to operate in Taliban-controlled areas “…if some welfare organisations or individuals want to help the masses, we will support their activities according to our procedures in the light of Islamic rules…”.

Afghan government and security personnel are again exhorted to desert and promised “secure and peaceful living conditions for all the officials and individuals who quit the enemy ranks”.

Statement by the Leading Council of the Islamic Emirate regarding the inauguration of Spring Operations called ‘Azm’ (Resolve)

In the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful.
Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran:
And fight them until there is no persecution and religion is wholly to Allah. But if they desist, then surely ALLAH is Watchful of what they do.)
O our devout countrymen and Mujahidin!

Due to your previous thirteen years of pious Jihad, the crusader invaders led by America were compelled to withdraw a major part of their invading forces from Afghanistan.

Though the occupying forces have announced the termination of their military operations inside Afghanistan but in reality they have preserved the control of our land and air-space under the spiteful ‘Bilateral Security Agreement’ and similarly, their occupation in political, cultural, educational, propaganda and other spheres has not ceased. The foreign occupiers are still carrying out drone strikes and night operations against the civilian people and have absolute control over the military and fighting command and control system of the heterogeneous regime under the so called ‘Bilateral Security Agreement’.

Since our vigilant people have been expert in detecting the occupation and they can easily discern it in all its visible and invisible forms therefore the foreign occupiers cannot divert the devout Afghan nation from their mission of Jihadi struggle by merely changing their fighting tactics. If the foreign occupiers really want to relieve themselves from this nuisance of fighting, they should immediately withdraw all their remaining forces and military, intelligence and special operation units from Afghanistan and should abandon both the illegitimate occupation and interference in the affairs of our country.

For the complete liberation of our beloved homeland from the yoke of foreign occupation and for the implementation of Islamic rule throughout the country, the Islamic Emirate is determined to prolong the ongoing Jihad against the foreign invaders as well as their internal stooges.

For this purpose, the Islamic Emirate is going to launch the spring operations under the inspirational name of ‘Azm’ (i.e. Resolve, Perseverance or Determination) with the chants of ‘Allah-o-Akbar’ (Allah is the Greatest) at 5 a.m. on the following Friday, 5th Rajab 1436 A.H (lunar), 4th Taurus 1394 A.H. (solar), 24th April 2015.
The name ‘Azm’ and the date 5th Rajab are adopted for good omen as ‘Azm’ means resolve or determination and those messengers of Allah Almighty who showed perseverance against His enemies have been celebrated as ‘Determined Messengers’

(Have patience, then, as the Messengers, possessed of high resolve.)
Similarly, Allah Almighty has advised perseverance and trust in Him after consultation regarding virtuous deeds.
(And when thou art resolved, then put thy trust in ALLAH. Surely, ALLAH loves those who put their trust in Him.)

Hope that Allah Almighty will bestow our Muslim masses with an even stronger Jihadi ‘Azm’ and fervor in these operations against the infidels and their debaucheries. As 5th of Rajab (seventh lunar month of Islamic calendar) has been decided the inaugural date for these operations as this was the date of a historic victory for the early Muslims and an admonitory defeat for the western infidel forces on fifteenth year of Hijra (i.e. migration) in the battle of ‘Yarmouk’. We trust in Allah Almighty that these spring operations will be a fatal blow for all western infidel forces who invaded our country.

The main targets of these operations called ‘Azm’ which have been planned by the Leadership of the Islamic Emirate and the professional and skilled specialists of our ‘Military Commission’ will be the foreign occupiers especially their permanent military bases, their intelligence and diplomatic centers, officials of the stooge regime, their military constellations, especially their intelligence, interior ministry and defense ministry officials and other pernicious individuals. As usual, advanced fighting techniques will be exercised in these military operations of ‘Azm’. Martyrdom seeking attacks for the devastation of infidels, infiltration attacks among the enemy ranks, attacking the huge and relatively fortified centers of the enemy with heavy and long-range missiles, confrontational attacks against the already demoralized mercenary forces of the enemy and guerrilla attacks in all major cities are among the main tactics of these operations.

Mujahidin will execute their plans with great care and deliberation in all parts of the country during these spring operations called ‘Azm’ in which top priority will be given to safeguarding and protecting the lives and properties of the civilian people. And those Mujahidin who are negligent and careless in preserving the lives and properties of the civilian people and their operations result in the civilian losses or casualties, will be panelized according to Jihadi and Sharia rules and regulations. Similarly, consistent with its policies, the Islamic Emirate has never and will never target religious and other educational institutions like mosques, madrassas, schools, universities, health centers like clinics and hospitals, public buildings and other projects of public welfare.

The Islamic Emirate reverently anticipates from the whole Muslim nation to even more inclusively support Mujahidin for the success of these virtuous operations as they have done in the past. Similarly they are advised to remain at a considerable distance from the military constellations and centers so that they are not hurt while operations are executed. The Islamic Emirate is quite considerate in resolving your issues in the light of Islamic Sharia system and in the prevailing circumstances, if some welfare organizations or individuals want to help the masses, we will support their activities according to our procedures in the light of Islamic rules and regulations.

Similarly, we once again call upon all the military and civilian officials and workers of the stooge regime to depart the invaders for fulfilling their Islamic and Afghani obligation and to unite with their own Muslim people. Mujahidin are ready as ever to provide secure and peaceful living conditions for all the officials and individuals who quit the enemy ranks.

In the end, we want to remind our courageous Mujahidin that Jihad is a type of worship and the purity of intention plays a crucial role in it. Instead of status, fame, boon or any other mean worldly benefits, the objective of your Jihad should be wholly and solely the elevation of the Word of Allah. Religious obligations, the training rules and regulations of Jihad and its procedures should be strictly observed. You should obey your elders and leaders. You should deal with and respect your masses just like a part of your own body. Live like brothers among yourselves. Do not be deceived by the enemy propaganda. Remain steadfast and consistent in adversities. Only trust in Allah and rely upon people’s support as the Holy Quran says:

(But if you show patience and fortitude and act righteously, that indeed is a matter of high resolve.)

Analysis

The Taliban seem to be stuck with this formula now – to significantly change timing, style, content or intent would be unusual and would likely fuel speculation that something was amiss.  I have analysed previous annoucements here, and here. The announcement is a little earlier than usual (the earliest since the 2008 beginning of these statements) and, with a word count of just over 1,000, is the longest thus far, although I would be wary of assigning any real significance to this.  The choice of the title for the year, “Resolve”, seems more conservative and less ambitious than previous years – perhaps a recognition that 2009’s “Victory” and 2010’s “Success” might be a little open to the critique of hindsight.  In fact, perhaps the reverse is occurring: words like “patience”, “resolve”, “determined”, “determination” and “perseverance” have crept into the statement this year.  Is there a sense amongst the Taliban that an ISAF withdrawal does not guarantee government collapse or that there is some understandable war-weariness amongst the ranks and leadership?

I have a simple table here, compiling a list of all previous official announcements:

Taliban Spring offensives1

There is no reference to politics or diplomacy – and certainly no hint of new rivals (Islamic State).  The security dynamics remain unremarked other than to reiterate that a small number of US soldiers in Afghanistan is as bad as a large number, in terms of Jihad.  This is a straightforward declaration that the fight continues. If the format remains the same, we should expect to see some “complex attacks” – multiple suicide and guerrilla attacks, particularly in population centres, on or around the 24th and the days and weeks afterwards.  Attacks into Kabul will remain a strong Taliban goal – the media profile of an assault into the capital is still prized – but the Afghan security forces have had quite a lot of experience in dealing with incidents here.  Other population centres – Kandahar, Mazar, Jalalabad, Herat, for example, might provide a more fruitful way of expending Taliban martyrs.  But Taliban operations over a given year of operations generally resemble a gradual rising tide through the summer, rather than a torrent, with occasional “spikes” of activity.

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