The Taliban on Saturday said it will not work with the US to combat extremist groups in Afghanistan, adopting a firm stance on a critical topic ahead of the first direct talks between the former adversaries since the US withdrew from the nation in August.
On Saturday and Sunday in Doha, Qatar, senior Taliban officials and US representatives will meet. Officials from both sides have stated that extremist groups must be reined in, as well as foreign citizens and Afghans being evacuated from the country. The Taliban have indicated that they are open to evacuations.
Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban political spokesman, told The Associated Press that the Taliban will not work with the US to combat an increasingly aggressive ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan. ISIS has claimed responsibility for a number of incidents, including a suicide bombing at a mosque that killed 46 Shia Muslims and injured hundreds more.
When asked if the Taliban will work with the US to limit the ISIS affiliate, Shaheen answered, “We are able to tackle Daesh independently.” He referred to ISIS using an Arabic acronym.
Since its inception in eastern Afghanistan in 2014, ISIS has relentlessly attacked the country’s Shia Muslims. ISIS is likewise seen as the most serious threat to the US.
The Doha discussions are the first since US soldiers left Afghanistan in late August, ending a 20-year military presence, and the Taliban took control of the country.
The conversations, according to the US, are not a prelude to recognition.
The talks follow two days of tense negotiations in Islamabad between Pakistani officials and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. Afghanistan was likewise at the centre of such discussions. Pakistani officials encouraged the United States to engage with Afghanistan’s new rulers and release billions of dollars in international assistance to avoid a financial crisis.
Pakistan also sent a message to the Taliban, urging them to be more inclusive and pay respect to human rights as well as the country’s various ethnic and religious groups.
Following Friday’s attack, Afghanistan’s Shia clerics attacked the Taliban leadership, seeking better safety for their places of worship. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack and identified the bomber as a Uygher Muslim. According to the assertion, the attack was directed at both Shias and the Taliban because of their alleged desire to evict Uyghers in order to satisfy Chinese demands.
It was the bloodiest attack in Afghanistan since foreign soldiers withdrew at the end of August.
Friday’s attack, according to Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Wilson Center’s Asia Program, could be a precursor to greater bloodshed. The majority of Uyghur terrorists are members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which has long sought refuge in Pakistan and Afghanistan’s border regions.
“If the (ISIS) claim is true, China’s concerns about terrorism in (Afghanistan) — to which the Taliban claims to be receptive — will increase,” he tweeted following the attack.
Afghanistan and Pakistan both seek to gain from China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative, which will connect Beijing to Central and South Asia. They’ve been willing to overlook China’s oppression of the Muslim Uyghurs. The Chinese enterprise, according to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, is the region’s most important economic undertaking.
According to a US official, during the Doha negotiations, US officials will try to get Taliban leaders to commit to allowing Americans and other foreign citizens to leave Afghanistan, as well as Afghans who have worked for the US military or government and other Afghan allies.
Because they were not authorised to go on the record about the meetings, the official spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Since the US withdrawal, the Biden administration has received concerns and complaints regarding the slow pace of US-facilitated evacuations from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.