The Taliban have once again rejected overtures by the Afghan government and international community to negotiate a peace settlement to the Afghan war and reconcile with the government.
The Taliban’s leadership council dismissed the reconciliation efforts and the upcoming London Conference in a statement just released on its English-language website, The Voice of Jihad.
Avoiding any discussion of compromise, the Taliban leadership council called for “the full withdrawal of the invading forces,” the release of all prisoners from Afghan, Pakistani, and US jails, and the removal of all names from the United Nations terrorist sanctions list.
The Taliban said they had no intentions of negotiating with the Afghan government, which they described as “traffickers of intoxications items, human rights violators, corrupt persons, national traitors and usurpers of people private properties.” Instead, Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s leader, seeks to reinstall the Islamic Emirate.
“It is worth mentioning that the leader of the faithful Mullah Mohammad Omar (May Allah protect him) has clearly said that we want an Islamic rule in our country,” the statement read.
The Taliban reiterated a claim made last year that they have no intention of attacking neighboring countries and will not permit attacks on foreign countries from their soil.
The Taliban released the statement as the international community and the Afghan government are holding talks on reconciliation at the London Conference. The Afghan government is seeking international support, including $1 billion in donations, to fund reconciliation and reintegration of local Taliban fighters, and to support high-level talks with the Taliban leadership.
But the Taliban statement dismissed these efforts as “ploys and stratagems” to divide the Taliban, and said the Taliban are not fighting for money:
Some time, they announce that they will provide money, employment and opportunity to have a comfortable life abroad, for those Mujahideen who agree to part ways with Jihad. They think that Mujahideen have taken up arms to gain money or grab power or were compelled to turn to arms. This is baseless and futile. Had the aim of the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate been obtainment of material goals, they would accept dominance of the invaders in the first place and would have supported them. Every thing was in their hand, comfortable life, money and power.”
Over the past three years, the Taliban leadership have repeatedly rejected calls for negotiations and reconciliation with the Afghan government [see LWJ reports “Taliban mock West for calling Afghanistan unwinnable” and “Taliban deny reports of negotiations with Afghan government“). Instead, the Taliban have turned the calls for talks into propaganda and claimed the talks are a sign of weakness.
The Taliban have denied conducting negotiations with the Afghan government and the West, and have denounced those who claimed to be negotiating in their names. The most prominent name that always comes up in these so-called negotiations is Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil, the former Taliban foreign minister who broke ranks after Omar refused to hand over Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11 attacks. In 2002 he claimed he sent an aide to warn the US of the Sept. 11 attacks but was ignored.
Mutawakil surrendered to the US in February 2002 without seeking approval from the senior Taliban leadership. He was detained by the US and then placed under house arrest in Kabul. The Taliban ejected Mutawakil from the movement in 2003, saying he “does not represent our will.” Mutawakil contested the elections in 2005.
Mutawakil has been behind numerous failed attempts to promote reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban. “He is probably sincere but just completely powerless,” a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal.
Just today, the United Nations removed Mutawakil and four other former Taliban leaders who had reconciled with the Afghan government long ago from the sanctions list. Also removed with Mutawakil was Abdul Hakim Munib, who is the current governor of Uruzgan province. Munib was one of several ‘Taliban leaders’ who went to the Maldives last weekend to conduct secret negotiations with the Afghan government.
The son of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was also reported to have been at the Maldives meeting. Hekmatyar leads a faction of the Hezb-e-Islami that fights the Afghan government and the West and has allied with the Taliban and al Qaeda. Since 2002, the US and Afghan governments have sought to draw Hekmatyar away from the insurgency, without success.
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