As the US and China continue to push for Afghan peace negotiations, the Taliban maintains that it wants no part in sharing power with the existing Afghan government. In a statement released on its official website, Voice of Jihad, that mocked US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s recent statement that “the Taliban’s existence in Afghanistan was only a temporary phenomenon,” the group concluded with the following [emphasis mine]:
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. On the contrary they epitomize the nation’s hopes and aspirations for a just and peaceful government that will strive to build our beloved nation on the basis of Islamic law, social justice and national interests.
The people of Afghanistan readily sacrifice their sons to achieve this objective. And the Emirate – as the true representative of our people – will not end its peaceful and armed endeavors until we have achieved this hope of Afghanistan.
“This objective” mentioned in the above quote is the re-establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the Taliban’s official name of its government. The Taliban has insisted from the very beginning that it will settle for nothing less than regaining full power. In its most recent statement, the Taliban discusses the Vietcong and its protracted fight and ultimate victory in outlasting the US in Vietnam:
Has Ashton Carter forgotten that the Americans made similar statements about the Vietcong during the Vietnam War and yet – some forty years later – the Vietcong (or its successors) are very much alive and in control of their country?
The Taliban continue to deftly manipulate Western leaders’ desire for a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan in order to extract concessions. But the Taliban will not denounce al Qaeda, and will not settle for anything less than a full return to power.