Today the Taliban formally announced the “suspension of dialogue” with the US, while maintaining in their statement that the Taliban office established in Qatar had been created to discuss a prisoner exchange and to inform the international community about the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”
The Taliban’s suspension of talks with the US constitutes the latest setback in a series of recent events threatening NATO’s timetable for leaving Afghanistan by 2014: the burning of Korans by US military personnel, the murder of 16 Afghan civilians by a rogue US soldier, and now today’s insistence by President Hamid Karzai that NATO forces immediately withdraw from the Afghan countryside to large bases.
The Taliban statement was released today at Voice of Jihad, the official website of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” which is run by Mullah Omar. [The full statement is reproduced below.]
The Taliban said the US failed to free five senior commanders who have been held at Guantanamo Bay, and accused the US of misrepresenting the purpose for the establishment of the office in Qatar. The Taliban said the office in Qatar was to be used for “preliminary talks with the occupying enemy over the exchange of prisoners” as well as to communicate the Taliban’s intent to fight NATO forces until they withdraw from Afghanistan.
“The Americans initially agreed upon taking practical steps regarding the exchange of prisoners and to not oppose our political office but with the passage of time, they turned their backs on their promises and started initiating baseless propaganda portraying the envoys of the Islamic Emirate as having commenced multilateral negotiations for solving the Afghan dilemma,” today’s statement said.
The Taliban also denied being involved in “multilateral” talks with the Afghan government, led by President Karzai, “who can not even make a single political decision without the prior consent of the Americans.”
“[T]he Islamic Emirate has not discussed any other issue apart from the two aforementioned (i.e. the induction of an office and the exchange of prisoners) and neither have we accepted any other condition with any other side nor have we conducted any talks with Karzai administration.”
In conclusion, the Taliban claimed that the organization “has enduring patience and long-term Jihadi strategies against the malicious plots of the enemy and enjoys the ceaseless support of its believing nation.”
The reasons for the Taliban’s suspension of talks remain somewhat unclear, despite the statement. The US recently allowed an Afghan delegation to visit the five Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo; the delegation obtained the consent of the five detainees to a transfer to Qatari custody.
A possible roadblock could be a US demand for the return of Bowie Bergdahl, a US soldier who has been held captive by the Taliban since 2009, but no mention of any such demand has been made in recent statements by either the Taliban or the US government.
Another reason for the Taliban’s statement today is their dismay that the establishment of the Qatar office has been treated as a mere gesture in peace negotiations rather than as its intended purpose, the recognition of the Taliban as a political entity with its own base.
Taliban regard Qatar office as political recognition, not mere token in negotiations
The Taliban have consistently maintained in their official statements released at Voice of Jihad that the establishment of the Qatar office was designed to conduct “prisoner exchanges” as well as to educate the international community about the Taliban. The Taliban said this in a statement released on Jan. 3, and reiterated it other statements, including one released on Jan. 12.
In the Jan. 12 statement, the Taliban said, “This understanding [the establishment of an office in Kabul] does not mean a surrender from Jihad and neither is it connected to an acceptance of the constitution of the stooge Kabul administration but rather the Islamic Emirate is utilizing its political wing alongside its military presence and Jihad in order to realize the national and Islamic aspirations of the nation and its martyrs.”
Subsequent Taliban statements over the past three months have been anything but conciliatory to the US and NATO. In a statement released just two days ago, the Taliban condemned the killing of 16 Afghans by a rogue US soldier in Panjwai, Kandahar, and said they would “cut off the heads of your murderous sadistic troops in every corner of the country in revenge for the martyrdom of every single Afghan and we shall not desist from utilizing any means for this purpose.”
The Obama administration has hailed the establishment of the Qatar office as a key step to a negotiated settlement with the Taliban. The administration has announced it would accelerate the drawdown of US forces and begin transitioning large areas of Afghanistan to the Afghan government.
President Karzai continues to make a phased withdrawal and transition difficult, however. In addition to demanding that the US end the controversial night raids and airstrikes, Karzai has now said that US forces should redeploy to the major bases and that the countryside should be secured only by Afghan forces.
“Afghan security forces have the ability to keep the security in rural areas and in villages on their own,” Karzai said after meeting with US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, The Associated Press reported. Karzai is said to have communicated this to Panetta.
Full Taliban statement on the suspension of talks:
Declaration of the Islamic Emirate about the suspension of dialogue with Americans, office in Qatar and its political activity
The Islamic Emirate decided on officially inaugurating its diplomatic office in Qatar a short while ago on 8th Zafar-ul-Muzaffar 1433 which corresponds with 3rd January 2012 for the purposes of reaching an understanding with the international community and for addressing some specific issues with the American invaders after arriving at an agreement with the government of Qatar.
The aim behind the induction of a diplomatic office was so that the Islamic Emirate can establish contact with the international community under complete freedom and away from any danger and to ascertain the invaders in face to face dialogue that we are not going to abandon the struggle for our freedom and will not pardon you until the withdrawal of your last soldier and until you let the Afghans establish an Islamic government for themselves. Similarly we wanted to quash the excuses put forward by the enemy who relieved themselves by repeatedly saying that the Mujahideen have no address with which contact can be made. Furthermore we wished to clarify to all the parties that in the future, we are prepared for such interaction with everyone as is done between any two sovereign nations in which every side gives consideration to its own established laws. We also wanted to erase the dull picture of Islamic Emirate painted and presented to the world by our enemies who dismissed us as a warring faction which has no political, administrative and social capabilities or that it wished to harm other nations all the while the Islamic Emirate has transparent policies, complete competence and long term plans regarding all these issues.
In this connection, the political envoys of the Islamic Emirate agreed upon the inauguration of a diplomatic office, the arrangement about which was already made with the government of Qatar and started holding preliminary talks with the occupying enemy over the exchange of prisoners. The Americans initially agreed upon taking practical steps regarding the exchange of prisoners and to not oppose our political office but with the passage of time, they turned their backs on their promises and started initiating baseless propaganda portraying the envoys of the Islamic Emirate as having commenced multilateral negotiations for solving the Afghan dilemma.
At the same time Hamid Karzai, who can not even make a single political decision without the prior consent of the Americans, falsely proclaimed that the Kabul administration and the Americans have jointly started peace talks with Taliban; whereas the Islamic Emirate has not discussed any other issue apart from the two aforementioned (i.e. the induction of an office and the exchange of prisoners) and neither have we accepted any other condition with any other side nor have we conducted any talks with Karzai administration.
A memorandum of understanding which was agreed upon earlier was not yet fulfilled when an American representative presented a list of conditions in his latest meeting with the Islamic Emirate which were not only unacceptable but also in contradiction with the earlier agreed upon points. So it was due to their alternating and ever changing position that the Islamic Emirate was compelled to suspend all dialogue with the Americans. We must categorically state that the real source of obstacle in talks was the shaky, erratic and vague standpoint of the Americans therefore all the responsibility for the halt also falls on their shoulders.
To elucidate the standpoint of the Islamic Emirate to our own Muslim people, to the transgressors and to the entire world, the inauguration of political office in Qatar was not but for the sake of reaching an understanding with the outside world and particularly for the exchange of prisoners with the Americans in the initial stages. But it seems that the invading Americans and their stooge regime took advantage of these measures of Islamic Emirate and sought to achieve other malicious objectives and therefore are postponing the core issues and are wasting time.
So the Islamic Emirate has decided to suspend all talks with Americans taking place in Qatar from today onwards until the Americans clarify their stance on the issues concerned and until they show willingness in carrying out their promises instead of wasting time.
Similarly the Afghan issue has two main dimensions; one is internal and the other external. The external dimension is associated with Americans and the internal dimension is connected with the Afghans themselves. Until and unless the external dimension is settled which rests entirely in the hands of the foreigners, discussing the internal dimension is meaningless and is nothing more than a waste of time. Therefore the Islamic Emirate considers talking with the Kabul administration as pointless.
At the same time, the Islamic Emirate is fully prepared, has enduring patience and long-term Jihadi strategies against the malicious plots of the enemy and enjoys the ceaseless support of its believing nation. The Islamic Emirate correlates the presence of the alien forces in Afghanistan with instability of the entire region and will not tolerate it in the present shape nor temporary and neither in the shape of permanent bases.
The Islamic Emirate once again calls on the entire world and particularly the regional countries to support and back the Islamic Emirate in expelling of the invaders in order to achieve peace and stability in the whole region.The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
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