NATO officials today publicly condemned the Taliban’s “2009 Rules and Regulations Booklet,” a guide by the leaders of the insurgency which orders fighters to limit the use of suicide attacks in the ongoing war and to make efforts to avoid killing civilians.
Officials say the rules don’t reflect the behavior of insurgent forces on the ground, and NATO spokesman Brigadier General Eric Tremblay said it ammounted to a “form of propaganda.” Both the Taliban and the NATO forces have struggled with enormous civilian casualties undermining their respective support.
The accusations that the rule booklet isn’t sincere, however, must inevitably draw comparisons to the repeated changes in the “rules of engagement” for US forces in Afghanistan. Notably the May airstrikes in Farah Province, in which US planes killed 140 civilians, were explained by the Pentagon insisting that the troops on the ground didn’t follow the rules.
Perhaps even scarier for the ongoing war effort is the prospect that the Taliban’s booklet is not propaganda but a sincere effort to cut its civilian killings, since popular support will likely fall to whichever side manages to curb its own slaughter of civilians first and there is no indication that the US, despite repeated revisions to its rules, has any ability to do so.
According to NATO, roughly 40% of those killed by the Taliban are civilians. The force did not make its own percentage available.