The Taliban again stated that it refused to negotiate with the Afghan government, which it has said numerous times is illegitimate, and will not conduct peace talks while coalition forces are occupying the country. The Taliban has consistently held this position over the years, and its actions have matched its words.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid responded to remarks made by General John Nicholson, the Commander of Resolute Support and US Forces-Afghanistan, on May 30. In the Pentagon briefing, Nicholson argued that “the elements of a peace proposal [were] outlined by the Taliban in an open letter to America.” Also, Nicholson claimed that since the Taliban never offered “a formal response to President Ghani’s peace offer,” that this proved there is a “a robust dialogue going on inside the Taliban” about peace.
Mujahideed’s response smacked down Nicholson’s second claim, and issued a formal response to Ghani’s peace offer.
“Talking to impotent parties [the Afghan government] during the presence of occupying forces is pointless,” Mujahid said in a statement published on Voice of Jihad only one day after Nicholson’s briefing.
Mujahid denied that the Taliban’s leadership is secretly conducting peace talks with the Afghan government and coalition forces, and said the Taliban’s position on negotiations has been clear.
“We categorically reject this baseless claim,” Mujahidid said about secret talks.
The Taliban has been consistent in its published position on negotiations. It has said that it refuses to conduct talks with an Afghan government that it considers to be “illegitimate,” a “puppet,” and “impotent.” The Taliban has insisted that it will conduct peace talks only when coalition forces withdraw from the country and the Taliban’s government, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is reinstated.
The Taliban’s deeds have matched its words. It has targeted Afghan military and government personnel ruthlessly. It has also conducted an assassination campaign against religious figures who could challenge its authority. The Taliban has imposed its radical version of Islamic law, or Sharia, in areas of Afghanistan that it controls.
The Taliban, in the open letter that was referred to and misunderstood by General Nicholson, referred to itself as the only legitimate representative of the Afghan people, and insisted that it would only hold peace talks after US and allied forces withdrew from Afghanistan.
Given that the Taliban has pushed Afghan government forces to the brink of failure with NATO forces in country, it is highly likely that the Afghan government and military would suffer a partial or complete collapse once such a withdrawal took place. So, the Taliban’s position is consistent: it will hold peace talks with a severely weakened or defeated Afghan government only after it has forced coalition troops to leave.
In the past, the Taliban has publicly said that it does not want “a share of the power.” In this official statement, released on Voice of Jihad in Jan. 2016, the Taliban clearly outlines this position. Again, note how the Taliban says that only the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is “the true representative of our people” [emphasis added]:
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.
The Taliban has held out the possibility that a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan is possible in order to extract concessions, such as the release of its leaders from Guantanamo Bay and the release of prisoners and the removal of commanders from the UN sanctions regime. Yet the Taliban refuses to enter negotiations with the Afghan government, continues its military and assassination campaigns, and will not denounce al Qaeda, which remains a key ally in Afghanistan to this day. The Taliban refuses to settle for anything less than full power and a return to the days of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Full statement on the Taliban’s position on peace talks:
Remarks by spokesman of Islamic Emirate concerning claims of General Nicholson
Yesterday the recently replaced commander of occupying forces in Afghanistan – General John Nicholson – made claims over the phone to journalists gathered inside the Pentagon that the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate are holding talks with the Kabul administration along with other such statements.
We categorically reject this baseless claim made by General Nicholson. The policy of Islamic Emirate regarding talks and negotiations had been frequently announced and it does not have any secret layers.
American General Nicholson is making such fabricated statements to divert attention from his failures and keep the Washington media busy with false claims instead of exposing the failed Trump strategy for Afghanistan to the American people.
Talking to impotent parties during the presence of occupying forces is pointless.
Spokesman of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? This holiday season we are asking readers to support our independent reporting and analysis by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.