Taliban dismiss Afghanistan's peace talks offer

Larry Hoffman
December 31, 2018

Bass isn't wrong: Kabul's chief negotiator had met with the USA special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Abu Dhabi on December 18, just days before news of a potential Afghan withdrawal broke.

In a taunting message sent on the 39th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of the war-torn country, the Taliban said U.S. forces faced "humiliation" and could "learn a great deal" from the experience of their Cold War foe.

That was the latest in a series of meetings between United States officials and representatives of the Talian that began in the summer.

Mujahid also claimed the Taliban is not against women's education or employment but emphasized that the jihadi group wants to maintain cultural and religious codes.

Asked whether the mission against the Taliban had reached a stalemate, Gen. Scott Miller, commander of US Forces in Afghanistan, told CNN: "This fight will go until a political settlement".

America is reportedly considering pulling out almost half of the 14,000 USA troops serving in Afghanistan, but some top military officials claim the Pentagon has yet to receive any orders to start withdrawing from the country.

Islamabad also views this development as hugely significant and last week it sent its foreign minister to Afghanistan, China, Russia and Iran to discuss various options for a peaceful transition in Kabul.

"I don't think their mindset has changed but they have realized that without respecting human rights, they can not be accepted by the global community", said Bilal Sediqi, spokesman for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. "I like how the Afghan security forces are performing".

Taliban fighters attacked the city of Ghazni in central Afghanistan early on Friday, burning police checkpoints, shelling buildings and seizing control of parts of the city, officials said.

Both the Taliban and the US are exhausted of war.

"I know there is no place for me if the Taliban return in their old style", said Abdul, a 12-year police veteran now working in the western province of Farah.

Harsh Pant, of the Indian think-tank Observer Research Foundation, wrote that the USA withdrawal could lead to Afghanistan's "gradual descent into a civil war", not just because local actors would fight for power but also because "various regional stakeholders (would) try to reshape the battlefield in accordance with their own strategic priorities". "They're fighting hard but their losses are not going to be sustainable unless we correct this problem".

Not all Afghans believe the Taliban is changing, accusing the group of just putting on a show to earn people's trust.

Representatives from the Taliban, the United States, and regional countries met this month in the United Arab Emirates for talks to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan.

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