The Afghan Taliban cautioned U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration over the weekend against engaging in negotiations to end the 17-year-old war with “fake” insurgent delegations, stressing that such meetings could derail “any possible genuine process of dialogue.”
Although the United States maintains that the Afghan peace process must be Afghan-led, it has intensified its participation in negotiations in recent months.
Nevertheless, the Taliban has continued its terrorist activities.
The Taliban has denied recent media reports of meetings between American and unnamed “high-ranking” Taliban officials in Dubai and Bagram, the largest American-run military base in Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid dismissed the reports as “untrue” in a statement issued Sunday, noting, “We categorically reject such rumors.”
Mujahid emphasized that it conducts its diplomatic activities from its office in Qatar, adding:
It is entirely possible that some self-interested individuals – for financial and other motives – could have tried to fool the Americans with such actions and posed as representatives of the Islamic Emirate to the Americans who have fallen for similar traps multiple times. But the reality remains that all our diplomatic contacts shall be conducted through the Political Office and known addresses.
The Americans must realize that such fraudulent and fake efforts and contacts can also seriously harm any possible genuine process of dialogue.
The Taliban has confirmed meeting top U.S. Department of State official Alice Wells in July in Qatar following a historic three-day truce between the terrorist group and U.S.-backed Afghan forces the previous month.
The meeting also came soon in the wake of Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada renewed the jihadi organizations calls for direct negotiations with the United States.
On Sunday, Voice of America (VOA) reported:
The Taliban had described the Qatar meeting with Wells’ delegation as productive.But the rare contact apparently failed to encourage further meetings between the two sides because there have been no signs of an Afghan peace process.
Instead, the Taliban has intensified battlefield attacks against U.S.-backed Afghan security forces, inflicting massive casualties on them and capturing new territory.
VOA quoted Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak as telling Afghan lawmakers over the weekend that “daily 30 ANA (Afghan National Army) and police personnel get killed.”
The Trump administration has deemed “reconciliation” between Kabul and the Taliban the end-state of its strategy to end the war in Afghanistan, which has been raging since October 2001.
U.S. officials have reportedly designated former diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad as the Trump administration’s special advisor to Afghanistan to promote peace negotiations.