As a bilateral security agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan begins an approval process, the Taliban's leader urged Afghans to reject the deal, calling it a colonial arrangement with elements of slavery.
The message came in an email on the eve of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday. In it, Mullah Mohammad Omar told Afghans to keep fighting, as NPR's Sean Carberry reports for our Newscast unit:
"In an email statement, Mullah Omar calls the draft security deal a colonial agreement and a document of slavery that will only prolong war in Afghanistan. He says that the Afghan people must continue to oppose the Afghan government and foreign powers.
"Omar again calls on the Afghan people to reject next year's presidential election, calling it a western exercise. President Karzai continues to push for reconciliation with the Taliban and claims that Afghanistan will not compromise human rights to entice them to negotiate.
"Yet, the Taliban statement calls for an Islamic Emirate where women wear the veil and the sexes don't mingle."
As we reported Sunday, the new security deal was brokered over two days' worth of talks between President Hamid Karzai and Secretary of State John Kerry. Karzai has called for a Loya Jirga, a traditional council made up of public and tribal leaders, to vote on the agreement.
"They might get these documents rubber stamped by a fake Loya Jirga but it will not be acceptable to the Afghans," Mullah Omar wrote, according to Pakistan's Express Tribune. "Throughout the history, the real representatives and Loya Jirgas of the country have never signed documents of slavery."
The U.S.-Afghan deal provides for as many as 10,000 U.S. troops to be deployed in Afghanistan after the current mission's 2014 pullout date. The agreement also assures Afghanistan of U.S. support in case of an attack.