The Taliban decried the upcoming Afghan Loya Jirga (grand council) for Peace as a tool of “the invaders and their stooges” that is used “for their own malicious objectives,” and has refused to participate in it. The Taliban has also called on Afghans to boycott the upcoming council. The Taliban’s position on the loya jirga is representative of its consistent refusal to deal with the Afghan government and civil society in good faith.
The Taliban issued two English language statements on its official website, Voice of Jihad, denouncing the upcoming peace council, which is scheduled to take place on April 29 and will be attended by thousands of Afghan from all aspects of society. The first statement, released on April, 9 is titled “Consultative Jirga for Peace or Continuing War?” The second, released one day later, is titled “Remarks by spokesman of Islamic Emirate concerning Loya Jirga of Kabul administration” and is signed by Zabihullah Mujahid, one of two key official spokesmen of the Taliban.
Both statements hurl insults at the Afghan government, which the Taliban describes as “domestic stooges,” a “puppet regime,” “the hollow Kabul administration” (a reference that the government’s authority does not extend beyond the capital), and “the decaying Ghani administration.” President Arshaf Ghani is referred to as “the head of Arg Palace,” or the presidential palace, yet another slight about his national influence.
In both statements, the Taliban claims that the upcoming peace jirga and past jirgas are illegitimate.
“The superficial ‘Grand Consultative Jirga’ that the hollow Kabul administration is to convene this time around will be no different than the Jirgas and resolutions passed by the supposed ‘Loya Jirgas’ during the end years of the communist regime or that of the year 2013 which approved the extension of occupation and auctioning of Afghanistan under the security agreement,” Mujahid writes.
The April 9 statement describes the peace jirga as a “Consultative Meeting for Continuing War.” Zabihullah reiterates the same theme in his statement.
Zabihullah also said that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the name for the Taliban’s government, was the legitimate representative of the Afghan people, and called on all Afghans to shun the jirga.
“The Islamic Emirate – as a representative of the its [sec] nation – rejects such fake Jirgas and any participation in them and asks all fellow countrymen to not become victims of enemy plots at such a historically sensitive juncture by abstaining from participating in such superficial Jirgas,” he says. Over the past decade, the Taliban has consistently said it is the one and only representative of the Afghan people and “another name of the Afghan nation.”
The meeting is designed to build consensus amongst the Afghan nation in preparation with hoped-for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Yet the Taliban has consistently refused to negotiate with the Afghan government as it views the government as a tool of the West. The Taliban has also said that it will not even consider talking until US and NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan.
The US government, under the direction of special representative Zalmay Khalilzad, has been desperately pushing negotiation with the Taliban. In the process, Khalilzad has sidelined and infuriated the Afghan government. Khalilzad claims that a “draft” agreement is in place with the Taliban on two key issues: the US withdrawal and the Taliban preventing Afghanistan from being used by terrorist groups to attack other countries. Mujahid, in a statement released on March 3, said that “no understanding has so far been reached about any agreement or document.”
The Taliban has not denounced al Qaeda or any other terrorist group, and is unlikely to do so. The Taliban-al Qaeda relationship is as strong today as it has been at any time in the past three decades, and the Taliban is negotiating from a position of strength. [See Why the Taliban should be required to renounce al Qaeda in any deal with US.]
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