Afghan Taliban reject US call for peace talks

A top spokesman for the Afghan Taliban rejected the US’ call for the group to “put down their arms and begin peace talks,” a request that was made just one day after a Taliban suicide assault team killed 21 people, including two Americans, at a restaurant in Kabul.

“We strongly reject the American demand,” Zabihullah Mujahid, an official Taliban spokesman, said in an email sent to The Long War Journal. Mujahid’s statement was also published on the Taliban’s website, Voice of Jihad.

“America wants to turn a blind eye from a manifest reality and conveniently skip over the primary reason for the problems of Afghanistan,” he continued. Mujahid said that “the American invasion and its resultant barbarity” was the Taliban’s reason for continuing the fight.

“If America truly wants peace and stability for Afghanistan then it should immediately withdraw all its forces from our land and leave the Afghans to their own wills and aspirations,” he continued. “If America is adamant on war and occupation then it should wait for more deadly attacks.”

Mujahid was responding to an official statement by the White House that condemned the Jan. 17 suicide assault on a Lebanese restaurant in Kabul that killed 21 people, including the IMF’s representative to Afghanistan, three UN workers, two Americans, two Brits, two Canadians, and a Danish citizen.

The Taliban claimed the Kabul attack was retaliation for the Jan. 15 raid in Parwan province that targeted a senior Taliban commander who is linked to the Haqqani Network and supports suicide bombings and attacks in the capital. [See LWJ report, Afghan, US forces target Haqqani-linked Taliban leader in Parwan; and Threat Matrix report, Taliban say Kabul suicide assault was response to ISAF raid in Parwan.]

In the White House statement, the US reiterated that it wants to negotiate with the Taliban.

“We call again on the Taliban to put down their arms and begin peace talks, which is the surest way to end the conflict in a peaceful manner,” the White House statement said.

The US government has unsuccessfully pursued peace talks with the Taliban for the past five years as the Obama administration seeks to withdraw the bulk of the forces from the country by the end of 2014. Vice President Joe Biden is pushing for a residual force of less than 3,000 troops to remain in country, while the ‘zero option,’ or no US forces in country, is a distinct possibility. The administration believes that a peace deal with the Taliban will end the fighting and prevent al Qaeda from operating in the country.

Previously, the US has demanded that the Taliban denounce al Qaeda and join the Afghan political process. The demand that the Taliban denounce al Qaeda was dropped last year as the Taliban were permitted to open an office in Qatar. Western officials wanted the Taliban to use the office to conduct peace talks, but the Taliban insisted it was to be used to raise the profile of the group in the international community and serve as a “political office.” Additionally, the Taliban wanted to use the office in Qatar to secure the release of five al Qaeda-linked commanders who are being held by the US at Guantanamo Bay. [See LWJ report, Taliban want release of 5 al Qaeda-linked commanders in exchange for captured US soldier; and Threat Matrix report, Taliban insist on using ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,’ flying flag at Qatar ‘political office.’]

The Taliban signaled in early 2012, during another US push for peace talks, that they had no intentions of disowning al Qaeda, and refused to denounce international terrorism. A Taliban spokesman even said that al Qaeda is officially operating under the banner of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

“They [al Qaeda] are among the first groups and banners that pledged allegiance to the Emir of the Believers [Mullah Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban], and they operate in Afghanistan under the flag of the Islamic Emirate,” a spokesman to jihadist forums known as Abdullah al Wazir said in February 2012.

“They are an example of discipline and accuracy in the execution of missions and operations entrusted to them by the Military Command of the Islamic Emirate,” Wazir continued, calling al Qaeda “lions in war.” [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda ‘operates in Afghanistan under the flag of the Islamic Emirate’: Taliban spokesman; and Threat Matrix report, Taliban expand list of demands, refuse to denounce ‘international terrorism.’]

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • My2Cents says:

    Surprise. Surprise. Surprise.
    Did anyone (outside the US State Department) expect any other response?

  • JT says:

    When are people in diplomatic circles going to understand that those who want to force their ways upon the diverse world by force (to impose a wordwide Islam theocracy) are not willing to talk or negotiate anything that does not further their goal?
    In other words, they have no interest at all with living peacefully with non Muslims.
    Reminder to many who need reminder: In some recognized NATIONS, it is a state crime to blaspheme Islam or to convert from it. Just a bit of evidence to state sponsorship of Jihadist goal.

  • Witch Doctor says:

    Well, if that is how Zabihullah wants to play, I am sure we can oblige him. Can we as a nation afford not to? More humint and death from above. We certainly can not afford any more American blood. Sever the head. We are getting close.

  • JasonBlaster says:

    Why on earth would they negotiate? I can’t believe that such an offer was made by our “diplomats”. It’s damn embarrassing! Oh please Mr Taliban man lay down your weapons and negotiate peace with us. But hurry up before we leave the country. I mean really? It’s probably what the administration has decided is their best hope of coming out of this smelling like a rose. We won’t let our military destroy them, and we’re leaving no matter what, so look we declared peace with the Taliban. Happy happy!

  • Ali says:

    My question is, Why American refused Islamic Emirtes of Afhganistan, Iraq or Somalia if they denounce from Alqaeda, that will end up the long war on terror

  • al qaida says:

    al praise belong to Allah
    Taliban will not sit in peace talk
    cause this is just the begining
    we with the black baners
    after finish off us and its alies in Afghanistan
    we are going forward to jerusalem

  • John says:

    Just as in Vietnam, destruction of the enemy with overwhelming force is NOT a strategic objective. That’s the problem, in a nut shell. There a circles in Washington, especially at Hells Bottom at the Pentagon that seems to believe wars are won with ‘minimal’ force. We saw in in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq in 2003. A gradual increase in forces over time as the situation worsens, instead on launching one massive assault.
    Afghanistan in 2001 presented unique challenges to the logistical capacity to sustain forces but understand, we had huge international support in 2001 and though I wasn’t a fan of his admin. Pres. Bush was right to say, “your either with is, or against is.” We should have then preceded to build large supply depots, increased the size of the armed forces , riflemen in particular, if need be use US or coalition forces to secure roads and ports in Pakistan so shipping can unload everything an army needs-bullets and bombs, to toilet paper and gas. We should have in 2001 invoked the NATO character to build a larger Alliance and increase international pressure on non-NATO states to cooperate with the coalition. We, after careful preparation should have attacked with over half a million men, given the countries size, and rough terrain. Special attention should have been given to the US Army corps of engineers and Navy Seabee battalions, massive construction projects, from water purification, supply depots, road improvement and construction, and infrastructure needed to support an invading army. I can go on, but my point is, unless you are willing to make a massive effort to win, don’t even bother fighting. The American military IMO has always been better at not solving its problems, but rather overwhelming its problems.

  • matvox says:

    Currently, Karsai is criticizing the US for (among other thins) hampering negotiations with the Taliban. The request by the US is surely to get it on the record, not for any expectation of a mature, rational human response. Ironcially, it was Karsai who cried bloody murder (so to speak) when the US went behind his back to set up talks with the Taliban in Dubai. Karsai of course has gone crazy and appears willing to let his country go to the dogs and have the mad Taliban come rolling back in–which will only lead to another civil war. It’s time the Afghan leaders put him down. It can’t be soon enough.
    Bush took his eye off the ball and it has all turned to shit. If he hadn’t started an unnecessary secondary war, the US might have had the attention and will to see it through to a new Afghanistan. Instead, they let the mad Taliban reproduce to be, once again, the problem they are. The sane tribesmen of the north will never allow that to stand.
    It wouldn’t surprise me to see Karszai assassinated–not by the Taliban–but a blue on blue attack of his own Preatorian guard. He will not be missed. Nugyen Van Thieu anyone?


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