Comments on the Taliban statement at Kyoto Conference

  1. It confirms the expectation that the Taliban would use the platform created through Qatar and the international launching of the political commission to conduct political propaganda/communications on behalf of the movement. It is primarily a re-launch of the movement on the world stage and only secondarily a move towards “reconciliation”. This was to be expected and here we have an interesting case study.
  2. The Taliban’s primary claim to legitimacy is the anti-US/anti-occupation stance. But this seems primarily retrospective rather than prospective, which illustrates the problem they may face in mobilizing young men to sustain the fight an occupation which is being wound down.
  3. They are as ever investing heavily in the brand of the Islamic Emirate. It highlights their dilemma/problem ahead on internal politics. Although they deny pursuit of monopoly of political power, the very concept of Emirate suggests exactly that. Twill be fascinating to see how a movement which styles itself as an Emirate really deals with other Afghan groups who are used to concepts of “broad-based government” but have no appetite for an Emirate.
  4. The historical revisionism is interesting and no more preposterous than some of the claims we have heard from the other side.
  5. Ultimately, there is nothing in the text which suggests any compelling reason for open-ended continuation of the armed struggle.


Anyway, good that such a document is now in the public domain.

By Michael Semple, Fellow at Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School