A spokesman for the Taliban told Afghanistan’s Khaama Press in an interview published Thursday that the terrorist group’s “war against the United States will resume … until they leave Afghanistan” if Joe Biden walks back President Donald Trump’s attempts to withdraw U.S. forces from the country.
Trump initiated talks including both the Taliban and the legitimate government of Afghanistan this year to come to an agreement that would result in the end of the American military presence in the country. Afghanistan is America’s longest war, launched in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Trump administration has sought assurances from the Taliban that it would not harbor terrorists seeking to harm American interests – such as the architects of the 9/11 attacks, al-Qaeda – in exchange for America not continuing to attack the jihadist group.
Civilian casualties in Afghanistan dropped to their lowest level in eight years in 2020, as peace talks in Doha, Qatar – where the Taliban’s political offices are headquartered – marched on. Attacks on American troops have also declined, though the Taliban has become more prolific in attacking the Afghan military.
Joe Biden has indicated that he does not support a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The Afghan war is not listed as a “priority” on Biden’s administration website, or is any other foreign policy issue.
Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem Wardak told Khaama Press that he does not anticipate the peace talks with the United States will change under Biden but that the Taliban was prepared in the event that they did.
“The peace agreement was a big change and it stopped the war, it was not with Donald Trump, but with the United States government,” he told the outlet. “We believe that Biden administration will respect this agreement; but if the Biden administration does not accept this agreement, our war against the United States will resume and will continue until they leave Afghanistan.”
Wardak did not indicate that he expected the peace agreements to result in any productive relationship with the Afghan government anytime soon. The Taliban considers itself the legitimate government of Afghanistan, not the presidency in Kabul, and formally refers to itself as the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” Afghanistan is technically an Islamic republic.
“We reached an agreement after two years of negotiations with the United States, so it will take some time to resolve the issue between the Afghans, because the war in the country has been going on for 20 years,” Wardak said.
Wardak also made bizarre claims about the purported progressivism of the Taliban.
“Twenty years ago, the Taliban gave the people their rights. During the Taliban regime, women were educated and served in the police force. The Taliban are still ready to give women their rights under Islamic law, but only when the Islamic system is established,” the spokesman claimed.
In reality, the Taliban implemented brutal jihadist rules that prevented women from functioning as human beings in society, largely denying them the right to show their faces, to an education, or to property.
“The assault on the status of women began immediately after the Taliban took power in Kabul. The Taliban closed the women’s university and forced nearly all women to quit their jobs, closing down an important source of talent and expertise for the country,” a U.S. State Department reported detailed in 2001. “It restricted access to medical care for women, brutally enforced a restrictive dress code, and limited the ability of women to move about the city.”
“The Taliban perpetrated egregious acts of violence against women, including rape, abduction, and forced marriage. Some families resorted to sending their daughters to Pakistan or Iran to protect them,” the report noted.
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense protested on Friday that the Taliban had dramatically increased attacks on Afghan forces in the past week; attacking in 23 of the nation’s provinces in just the past day.
“The Taliban has kept violence very high, which is against the will of the people of Afghanistan, but members of the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces are retaliating harshly to all these attacks to ensure their safety and the security of the people,” Fawad Aman, the deputy spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, said on Friday, according to Tolo.
A military analyst, Assadullah Sikandar, told Tolo that the Taliban had “escalated the level of violence to score points in the view of the peace process.”
While attacks on the Afghan military have increased, attacks on U.S. troops have dropped, as have civilian casualties. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) published a report in October finding a 30-percent drop in civilian casualties comparing the first nine months of 2020 to the first nine months of 2019. Comparing the entire decade, the numbers were the lowest since 2012.
While civilian casualties caused by the Taliban dropped 32 percent, civilian casualties caused by the Afghan military increased 70 percent between 2019 and 2020.
President Donald Trump recently announced he would reduce troops numbers to 2,500 by January 2021, a move Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been heavily involved in the peace talks, defended this week.
“President Trump has been very clear we’re going to protect and secure the homeland, but we’re not going to have our young men and women in harm’s way when it doesn’t deliver real security benefits for the United States and for our allies,” Pompeo said in a Fox News interview. “We have the force posture right today. We’re going to keep it right. We’ll get our troops home when we can, and we’ll do the things we need to do.”
Biden has hinted that he would not support a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, which Trump has openly stated he is working toward as an ultimate goal.
“I think we need special ops capacity to coordinate with our allies,” Biden said in September.