Taliban publicly rejects talks with Afghan government, again

The Taliban has once again rejected reports saying its political delegation is willing to meet with representatives from the Afghan government.

In a statement released today, the group says that some “media outlets have published rumors that the representatives of the Islamic Emirate will hold talks with those of the Kabul administration in Saudi Arabia.” These “rumors are baseless,” the Taliban insists, as the “position of Islamic Emirate concerning talks with the Kabul administration remains the same and has not changed.”

The Taliban consistently refers to itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which is the same name used by its totalitarian regime since well before the US-led war began in late 2001. At the same time, the Taliban derisively describes the Afghan government as the “Kabul administration.”

“We are advancing [the] negotiations process with the United States under a strong and extensive plan to bring an end to the occupation of our country Afghanistan,” the Taliban says.

That line echoes previous messages, as the group has repeatedly explained that it is talking with the US in order to negotiate the withdrawal of foreign troops — and not to reach a political settlement with the Afghan government. The US currently has about 15,000 soldiers in country, as well as various other personnel and contractors. This force is not nearly large enough to “occupy” the country, as the Taliban claims.

Statements such as the one posted today mean that if the Taliban does agree to a sit-down with the Afghan government at some point, then it will have contradicted its public position – one that it has restated over and over again for years.

On Dec. 18, for instance, the jihadis said there was “[n]o chance of meeting representatives of [the] Kabul administration in Abu Dhabi.” The Taliban said “[d]iscussions” were “taking place with the representatives of the United States about ending the occupation, a matter that does not concern the Kabul administration whatsoever. The entire agenda is focused on issues concerning the occupiers and talks will exclusively be held with them.”

The Taliban weaves this same theme into its other statements on past and current events.

On Dec. 27, for example, the Taliban commemorated the 39th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Unsurprisingly, the group connected the Soviets’ failed effort to America’s own 17-year war.

“At the time of invasion of Afghanistan by the Red Army, the then Soviet Union had grand designs of subduing the world just as the United States harbors those dreams today,” the Taliban claimed.

After referencing “the blessing” of its “seventeen-year Jihad and resistance,” the Taliban argued that the “occupying American invaders are facing the exact same fate as the former Soviet Union as their military might is dissolved and they are facing humiliation on both media and political fields, as well as being caught in a dilemma about staying [the] course or abandoning the longest war in their history.”

The “39th anniversary of the ruthless Soviet invasion” is a good occasion for “American officials to learn a great deal from,” the Taliban argued, as the US should “[t]ake heed from the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan and abandon thoughts of testing the mettle of the already proven Afghans.”

Normally, such statements can be dismissed as propaganda, which they are. But in the context of recent reports over US efforts to negotiate with the Taliban, the group’s rhetoric is noteworthy, as the jihadis insist that they just want America to leave.

Other jihadis around the globe are watching how the Taliban handles the talks with the US.

Earlier today, Hay’at Tahrir al Sham’s (HTS) Ebaa News Agency released a short summary of the Taliban’s denial regarding any possible meeting with the Afghan government.

Ebaa News reiterated the Taliban’s claim that it is only negotiating with the US “to end the occupation of Afghanistan.” Ebaa added that the “Islamic Emirate has carried out numerous military attacks against the puppet government of Kabul,” which has forced America to reduce the number of its soldiers in the country and use helicopters to avoid additional attacks.

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

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3 Comments

  • James says:

    I think it’s just hilarious how upset and distraught those tail bunnies become every time the media mob reports that supposed negotiations are being had between them and the legit Afghan gov’t. I’m just wondering, why would that be the case? If they’re just a pipe dream coming from the legit Afghan gov’t, why don’t they just ignore them?

    As the article points out, they keep saying over and over again that there are no discussions between the two ‘in public’. But that doesn’t enlighten us at all as to what might be happening ‘in private’.

    At least one possible explanation just may be that they are worried about disunity or divisions developing within their ranks. Just imagine, some rogue faction among them willing to ‘go it alone’ and negotiate their way out of this conflict. Yes, paranoia will destroy ya.

    Is anyone up for psych ops suggestions (@CIA)?

    • Marc says:

      Khalilzad is more worried about disunity and divisions already developed within NUG, i.e. Ghani, Abdullah, Dostum, Hekmatyar and Karzai mutually distrust each other.

      Trump’s instincts on this are on the money – US deserves better Afghan allies.

  • James Albright says:

    The US could easily and should defeat the Taliban by boming their locations in Pakistan and Iran and any other country that thinks they can get away with providing a safe heaven for Muslim terrorists.

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