TALIBAN SUSPECT U.S. DRAWDOWN IN AFGHANISTAN A COVER FOR PERMANENT BASES
Afghanistan’s Taliban movement has reacted to Washington’s announcement that it would begin a phased military withdrawal from Afghanistan, beginning with the withdrawal of 10,000 troops by the end of the year. In an official statement issued in the name of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the Taliban described the announcement as an attempt to deceive both the American and Afghan people by its failure to acknowledge an alleged U.S. plan to build permanent military bases with American garrisons in Afghanistan. 
The statement claims that President Obama “and his war mongers” have no intention of bringing the American occupation of Afghanistan to an end. In the Taliban’s eyes, the suggestion that the Afghan police and army can take over security duties from the Coalition “holds no significance,” as most of the police and army “are drug addicts” and are considered by Afghans as “enemies of their nation and religion”: “They perform their duty only to spread vice and corruption. They can neither fulfill the demands of the Afghans nor help the Pentagon and CIA to achieve their goals.”
The Taliban statement goes on to describe the American “surge” as a strategic failure that has only increased American loss of life and equipment: “They have not gained progress in the battlefield, nor can they bring forth any proofs of this progress… persecution of people and the destruction of people’s homes and farms to protect themselves cannot be called victory or progress by any sound mind.”
The statement concludes by warning American taxpayers that their money is “still being wasted” on the prosecution of the war or by finding its way into “the pockets of officials in the corrupt Kabul regime.”
Despite recent talk of new negotiations between the Taliban and the Karzai regime and its American sponsors, the two sides appear to be far apart. While Washington demands a renunciation of violence, the end of cooperation with al-Qaeda and support for the Afghan constitution, Taliban leaders continue to call for an immediate and complete withdrawal of foreign troops and the replacement of the Karzai “stooge” regime in Kabul.
Some in the U.S. administration still seem to be working on the assumption that Afghanistan’s Taliban movement is little more than a subordinate element of al-Qaeda. According to recent Senate testimony presented by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “With (Osama) Bin Laden dead and al-Qaeda’s remaining leadership under enormous pressure, the choice facing the Taliban is clear: be part of Afghanistan’s future or face unrelenting assault" (AFP, June 23).
Rumors of negotiations regarding permanent U.S. military bases in Afghanistan have been dismissed by Secretary of State Clinton and a number of other senior officials. A Karzai government spokesman also denied the report: “It has not been officially discussed yet… We have not proposed that the U.S.A. establish permanent bases in Afghanistan” (Tolo TV [Kabul], June 20).
Taliban fears of a permanent American military presence in Afghanistan are based on a June 13 Guardian article which claimed, according to unnamed “American officials,” that quiet but difficult negotiations are underway to provide for a continued American military presence beyond 2014 at one or more of five existing bases in Afghanistan. One of the sticking points allegedly centers on their possible use in operations against neighboring countries such as Pakistan and Iran. According to the Guardian’s sources, American denials are a matter of interpretation; such bases would not necessarily be “permanent,” and though American “combat troops” would not be deployed, military “advisors” routinely accompany their trainees on combat missions.
1. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan: “Statement of Islamic Emirate regarding Obama’s announcement of the withdrawal of a limited number of U.S. troops from Afghanistan,” Afghan Islamic Press News Agency, June 23, 2011.
NIGERIAN SALAFISTS FOLLOW “MARTYRDOM OPERATION” WITH CALL FOR JIHAD
Styling themselves as the Muwahiddin [Unitarians], a common self-appellation for Wahhabists and Salafists, Nigeria’s Islamist extremists have shared a number of their goals and aims in a statement carried on jihadist websites entitled “Demands of the Muwahiddin to the Tawaghit [those who rule without recourse to the Shari’a] and their Allies in Nigeria” (ansar1.info, June 21). The statement is allegedly penned by “Abu Muwahid” for the Brigades of Tawhid [Oneness of God] Publications.
The statement claims that the June 16 car bombing of the national police headquarters in Abuja (described here as a “martyrdom” or suicide bombing) had thrown the Nigerian tawaghit into a state of confusion and panic, leading them to seek negotiations with the Islamist militants (or Boko Haram, though the movement is not mentioned by name in the statement; For the bombing, see Terrorism Monitor Brief, June 23). However, the Islamists indicate that they have no interest in pursuing talks with the government: “One major thing they forgot in their consideration of negotiation is that our millah [religion], the millah of Ibrahim, forbids negotiating with all those who have rejected the supremacy of Allah’s Shari’a and all those who have taken themselves as lords besides Allah.”
Reacting to suggestions that a combination of incentives and amnesty might bring Boko Haram to the negotiating table much as it did southern Nigeria’s Movement to Emancipate the Niger Delta (MEND), the Salafists responded: “They initially thought that our ideology could be bought off with materialism like the MEND Militants of the Niger Delta region. Our ideology is far from materialism; it is an ideology that abhors shirk [polytheism] and kufr [disbelief] and seeks to eradicate the tawaghit and all their allies in the whole universe, such that the earth will become purified and all ibadah [worship] will then be directed solely to Allah.”
In addressing Nigeria’s Islamic scholars, the Muwahiddin raise the issue of colonialism, asking the scholars if they have “forgotten the pains of your fathers in the hands of the white monkeys?,” while reminding them it would be treacherous to be seen in the forefront of the grandchildren of former Nigerian colonial governors such as “Lugard, Richard, MacPherson and other white criminals whose hegemony still reigns over our head after 108 years.” 
With the first claimed suicide bombing in Nigeria, there are fears that others will follow, leaving Nigeria destitute of new foreign investment. As a statement from the Nigerian political party Action Congress of Nigeria (ANC) noted: “No foreign investor will wait for a travel advisory from his/her government before deciding not to visit a country where security is not guaranteed, where a drink in a pub can fetch one a bomb” (The Nation [Lagos], June 20). Meanwhile, the Nigerian police have backed away from their earlier belief that the bombing was a suicide attack, now stating instead that the evidence is inconclusive (Nigerian Tribune, June 23).
Much of the response of Nigeria’s many security services to the security crisis has consisted of trying to blame each other for the “intelligence failure” that President Goodluck Jonathan has identified as the cause of the ongoing violence in Borno and Bauchi states and its spread to the capital city of Abuja (Vanguard, June 26). Nigeria’s security services tend towards competition rather than cooperation, and intelligence sharing is a low priority.
The militants’ statement affirmed the loyalty of the Nigerian muwahiddin to the new al-Qaeda leader, “the Amir of our caravan, Shaykh Ayman al-Zawahiri.” The Nigerian Salafists also expressed their appreciation for the work of leading Jordanian Salafi-Jihadi ideologue Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, once the mentor of the late al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The Salafist message also alludes to the arrival of foreign jihadists in Nigeria, who will “surely make Nigeria ungovernable the same way our brothers in Somalia have made the country ungovernable for the apostate stooge [Somali president Shaykh] Sharif [Shaykh] Ahmad.”
Even after the attempt to destroy the leadership and the Abuja headquarters of Nigeria’s national police, Boko Haram violence continues unabated in northern Nigeria. Twenty-five people were killed in Maiduguri on June 26 when motorcycle-riding militants threw bombs at local outdoor beer parlors (Vanguard, June 27).
1. Sir Frederick Lugard, Governor General of Nigeria, 1914-1919; Sir Arthur Richards, Governor of Nigeria, 1943-1948; Sir John Stuart MacPherson, Governor of Nigeria, 1948-1954, Governor General of Nigeria, 1954–1955.