The Taliban has consistently refused to negotiate with the Afghan government, and said the composition of the delegation to Doha indicates that it represents the Afghan government.
Unlike previous years, the Taliban does not prioritize attacks on US and NATO forces, but instead sets its crosshairs on those working for the Afghan government, military, and police. The statement is yet another clear indication that the Taliban will not share power with the Afghan government, but instead seeks to impose its will on the country.
The Taliban decried the upcoming Afghan Loya Jirga for Peace as a tool of “the invaders and their stooges,” and called on all Afghans to shun the jirga.
A Taliban suicide bomber attacked US forces outside of Bagram Air Base, the largest US military installation in Afghanistan.
The Taliban blocked off all roads leading into Bala Murghab district, overran 11 security outposts and put an Afghan National Army company stationed there to rout. They also killed 44 Afghan security personnel and captured another 190, and advanced to within one kilometer of the district center.
According to the UN’s Jan. 2019 assessment, al Qaeda’s relationship with the Taliban is “long-standing” and “strong.” And al Qaeda “continues to see Afghanistan as a safe haven for its leadership.” The UN estimates that the Islamic State has several thousand fighters in Afghanistan as well.
While Afghan and Coalition officials claim the assault was “repelled,” the Taliban clearly entered the base and inflicted casualties on Afghan forces.
According to UNAMA’s annual report for 2018, more civilians were killed in Afghanistan than in any year since 2009. The Taliban remains the main culprit when it comes to civilian casualties, killing or wounding more than any other party. But the number casualties attributed to the Islamic State’s branch more than doubled in 2018, as compared to 2017.