Taliban rejects U.S. peace plan, six month extension in withdrawal deadline

An image posted by the Taliban from its Tariq bin Ziyad military camp in Paktika province.

The Taliban has published a statement rejecting the reported terms of a State Department peace plan for Afghanistan, as well as a proposed six-month delay in the U.S. withdrawal from the country.

The message was published in English on the Taliban’s Voice of Jihad website, which produces media in multiple languages for the group’s Islamic Emirate.

Earlier this month, President Biden said that while he “can’t picture” American forces in Afghanistan next year, it was going to be “hard” to meet the May 1 withdrawal date set in the Trump administration’s deal with the Taliban. The Taliban, which refers to itself as the Islamic Emirate throughout its statement, once again rejects a delay in the U.S. withdrawal.

“The Islamic Emirate responded firmly to Biden’s comments and announced that if the occupying forces do not leave by the agreed upon date, then attacks shall resume,” the Taliban warns, repeating an earlier threat to attack American and NATO forces should they fail to depart by May 1.

“Any deal made with the Taliban regarding a six-month extension is also of no benefit,” the Taliban’s men write.

The U.S. State Department has written a peace plan that envisions the Taliban sharing power with the government based in Kabul. In the proposal, this new government would be a democracy of sorts that holds elections throughout the country.

The Taliban argues that this peace proposal is an act of desperation, given that U.S. intelligence reports indicate the Kabul government will likely collapse in the aftermath of the withdrawal. The jihadist organization also again rejects democracy as a “non-Islamic,” foreign import, stating that it won’t settle for a compromise with the “quisling administration” in Kabul that involves a new representative government.

“According to intelligence reports presented to Joe Biden, withdrawal of foreign forces is synonymous to the collapse of the quisling administration,” the Taliban writes. “It is in light of this situation that the US has begun efforts for a political settlement between the Islamic Emirate and Kabul administration.” The U.S. thinks an “honorable exit” requires the “establishment of a joint government comprising of the Taliban, present quislings and various political parties in Afghanistan,” the Taliban’s men write. “The Americans wish for governance to be equally distributed between the Islamic Emirate and democracy.”

However, the Taliban stresses, the “people of Afghanistan are Muslims and therefore a communist, democratic or other non-Islamic forms of governance are unwanted.” In addition, “[a]ttempts to enforce such systems have proven unsuccessful too.” Afghans have witnessed “ridiculous democratic elections.”

The Taliban asks: “Importantly, why must a system with foreign roots be forcefully implemented in Afghanistan when Afghans possess a superior model of governance?”

The U.S. should abide by the Trump administration’s deal with the Taliban and leave per the terms of the agreement. After the withdrawal, Afghans can “agree upon the establishment of an Islamic system.”

Although some in the U.S. pretend this “Islamic system” could be something other than the Taliban’s own Islamic Emirate, there is no reason to think that is the case. The Taliban’s members have fought to resurrect the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan for nearly two decades.

Below are images from the Taliban’s Tariq bin Ziyad military camp in Afghanistan’s Paktika province. The photos were shared online by Taliban propagandists on April 11. Ziyad was a medieval Muslim general who led the invasion of what is today Spain. He was not an Afghan nationalist.

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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