Taliban announce 2016 “Spring Offensive”
Summary: It’s that time of year again. Naming the offensive this time after their deceased leader, Mullah Omar, the Taliban renew annual promises of a surge in attacks intend to conquer territory, attack the Afghan government and eject the international military presence. No mention of peace talks or dialogue, just fighting.
The Taliban have announced the initiation of their regular annual event, the “Spring Offensive”. In practical terms, this means that some complex attacks might strike Kabul or a major city. There might also be an attempt at other forms of “spectacular”, such as a prison break, attempts to overrun army and police bases or even a larger town. A major boost to Taliban morale was the brief seizure of the city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan in September 2015: a similar success would be highly desirable for the Taliban leadership.
The format for this announcement is quite standardised by now. The Taliban reference their ongoing jihad, the successes of last year’s Spring Offensive and promise a range of attacks including martyrdom (ie suicide bombings) and targeted killings. There are no significant divergences in style, length, content or format when compared to similar announcements over the past few years other than the linkage to Mullah Omar and the repetition of the Spring Offensive announcement from 2015 last year that made a historic link to the anniversary of the battle of Yarmouk in 636 AD. Last year, the announcement paid attention to avoidance of causing civilian casualties – a theme which is not repeated this year.
The announcement again calls upon Afghans working for the government to desert and warns the population not to fall victim to enemy propaganda or to fear the Taliban. Each year, the offensive is given a name and often a linkage to early Islamic history: tempting fate by calling operations “Victory” (2009) or “Success” (2010) seem to have been long dropped as a bad idea. Last year, the Spring Offensive was called “Azm”, or resolve. This year, the operations are titled “Omari”, as tribute to the former Taliban leader Mullah Omar who, the majority of the Taliban only found out in 2015, died of illness in 2013. Although naming the operation after Mullah Omar is logical in its right, this may alos represent an attempt by the current Taliban leader, Mullah Mansour, to reinforce his possition as the natural successor. Mansour has struggled to exert his authority: many Taliban leaders have resented his accession and resisted by force.
Translation: “O Prophet, strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination” 66:9
The Islamic Emirate’s armed Jihad against the American invasion has completed fourteen years and is now in its fifteenth year. Jihad against the aggressive and usurping infidel army is a holy obligation upon our necks and our only recourse for reestablishing an Islamic system and regaining our independence.
With the advent of spring it is again time for us to renew our Jihadi determination and operations. Hence the Islamic Emirate’s leadership eagerly announces this year’s Jihadi Operation in honor of the movement’s founder and first leader, the late Amir ul Mu’mineen Mullah Muhammad Omar Mujahid (May Allah have mercy upon him).
Under the leadership of the late Amir ul Mu’mineen Mullah Muhammad Omar Mujahid (May Allah have mercy upon him) Mujahideen pacified 95 percent of our nation’s territory from wickedness, corruption and oppression, and vanquished the maligned and wicked. Then following the invasion, through holy Jihad, they defeated the vast multinational coalition arrayed against them, forcing their retreat and inter alia filling the annals of Islamic history with deeds of valor and bravado. So we pray to Allah Almighty that through the deceased’s blessed name, Operation Omari, He Almighty will consecrate this Operation with strategic victories and cleanse our beloved country from the presence of the remaining foreign invaders and their malignant and corrupt rebel servants.
Operation Omari began across Afghanistan at 5 am today (local time) on the 5th of Rajab ul Murajab 1437 (Lunar Hijri) which corresponds to 24th of Haml 1395 (Solar Hijri) and 12th of April 2016 (Gregorian). The fact that the 5th of Rajab ul Murajab year 15 (Hijri Lunar) was the day on which – under the leadership of Khalif Omar al Farooq – the Muslim armies fought and annihilated the vast infidel western army in the Battle of Yarmouk, so we pray to Allah Almighty that He bless our Operation Omari in a similar fashion and ordain it with great Islamic victories on the battlefield and the unconditional defeat and withdrawal of the foreign invaders and their internal servants.
Operation Omari – which was initiated and planned by the Islamic Emirate’s leadership, the leaders of the Military Commission as well as the Emirate’s military planners – focuses, with hope of divine assistance, on clearing the remaining areas from enemy control and presence. Similarly the Operation will employ large scale attacks on enemy positions across the country, martyrdom-seeking and tactical attacks against enemy strongholds, and assassination of enemy commanders in urban centers. The present Operation will also employ all means at our disposal to bog the enemy down in a war of attrition that lowers the morale of the foreign invaders and their internal armed militias.
By employing such a multifaceted strategy it is hoped that the foreign enemy will be demoralized and forced to evict our nation. In areas under the control of Mujahideen, mechanisms for good governance will be established so that our people can live a life of security and normalcy.
Simultaneously with the present Operation the scholars, elders and leaders of the Islamic Emirate will open a dialogue with our countrymen in the enemy ranks to give up their opposition to the establishment of an Islamic government and join the ranks of the Mujahideen so as to safeguard them from the shame and failure of this World and the Hereafter. During the planning of this Operation, the Mujahideen have been unequivocally instructed to implement their operations in such a manner that takes pains to protect civilians and civil infrastructure.
During the span of Operation Omari, in areas including villages and cities where the Islamic Emirate has established its rule, the lives and property of the dwellers will be safeguarded as is its duty. Therefore we call upon the dwellers of these areas, be they the professional classes or businessmen, not to fall prey to enemy propaganda and not to feel threatened by the Mujahideen. As it is our duty to protect and assist the wronged and helpless, so we will pay particular attention to the freedom of prisoners.
The Islamic Emirate calls upon all the people of Afghanistan and the Mujahideen, that in similar vein to last year’s successful Operation Azm, they should fully and in high spirits participate in this year’s operations as well so that with the help and mercy of Allah Almighty this present Jihadi Operation serves as the killing blow to the invading foreign forces and their allies and thus our nation is freed from the present invasion.
And nothing is hard for the Almighty Allah
Leadership Council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
5th Rajab ul Murajab 1437 Lunar Hijri
24th Haml 1395 Solar Hijri
12th April 2016 Gregorian
The Taliban give three dates: Islamic Lunar Hijri (the “standard” Islamic calendar), Islamic Solar Hijri (used by Afghanistan and Iran) and the Gregorian (“aka Western”) calender. The month of Rajab is the 7th month of the Islamic calendar and means “respect”. According to Wikipedia, it:
is regarded as one of the four sacred months in Islam in which battles are prohibited.
The 5th Rajab is the anniversary of the Battle of Yarmouk, which the Taliban link to their new offensive. At Yarmouk in Year 15 (or 636 AD), an Islamic army inflicted a major defeat on Byzantine forces in and around the modern border between Syria and Jordan. Interestingly, this same date and anniversary reference to Yarmouk was used by the Taliban last year in their 2015 Spring Offensive announcement, suggestng either forgetfulness on the part of the Taliban leadership, or perhaps a lack of useful battle-related reference points in this supposed “non-fighting” month.