25 January 2019

‘They will beg us for talks but we will reject them,’ Taliban spokesman says


One of the Taliban’s top two spokesmen bragged that the group called off negotiations with the US after the latter pleaded for peace talks. Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, suggested that this very situation was predicted by Mullah Omar, the group’s founder who died in 2013. The statement was issued only days after the Taliban canceled talks with the US over attempts to include the Afghan government in negotiations.

Mujahid attributed the statement to Omar on his Twitter account on Jan. 20 which also included a photograph of the Taliban founder and first emir. According to Mujahid, the statement was a “prediction” by Omar that was issued sometime before his death. Omar died of natural causes in Pakistan in 2013; his death was hidden by the Taliban for two years before it was announced.

“We are currently calling them towards talks however a time will arrive when they will beg us for talks but we will reject them,” the text accompanying Omar’s image says.

The Taliban canceled preliminary peace negotiations with the US that were to be held in Qatar on Jan. 9 over an “agenda disagreement,” according to Reuters. The Taliban is said to have objected to the US attempts to include the Afghan government in the talks, as well as discussions of a ceasefire and prisoner exchange.

In an official statement released on Jan. 15, the Taliban said that the US is backing away from that agenda [of a US withdrawal] and is unilaterally adding new subjects.”

“Hence the Islamic Emirate warns the United States that if the current state of affairs continues and America sustains her insincerity, then the Islamic Emirate will be forced to stall all talks and negotiations,” the statement concluded.

Four days later, when it was rumored that the Taliban would re-enter talks in Islamabad, Mujahid outright denied it.

“Rumors about some meeting between US representative @US4AfghanPeace [Zalmay Khalilzad] & representatives of Islamic Emirate in #Islamabad are untrue,” Mujahid tweeted on his official account.

The Taliban has consistently maintained that it would not negotiate with the Afghan government, which it views as an “impotent” “puppet” that takes its orders from the US. Talking with the Afghan is a “waste of time,” the Taliban has said.

Before talks can begin, the Taliban demands that the US withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, release its prisoners, and remove Taliban leaders from the United Nations blacklist.

The Taliban also maintains that only its Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is the legitimate representative of the Afghan people, and that imposing an “Islamic government” on them is the only acceptable outcome. This was reiterated in Omar’s statement that was released by Mujahid.

“We have come out for the purpose of sacrificing in the path of Allah and establishing the law of the Allah on His servants,” Omar said.

The US has accelerated efforts to negotiate a settlement after President Trump has grown frustrated over the situation in Afghanistan. Trump reportedly will order a significant reduction of troops and may end the US mission by 2020.

Both the US and NATO have refused to recognize the Taliban’s religious motivations for continuing the 18 year long war, and have operated under the assumption that the Taliban is willing to enter into a power sharing agreement with the Afghan government. The Taliban has explicitly stated it will not share power with the Afghan government.

“The Islamic Emirate has not readily embraced this death and destruction for the sake of some silly ministerial posts or a share of the power.” the Taliban said in an official statement that was released in 2016.

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