No peace if US-led occupation of Afghanistan continues: Taliban leader
Iran Press TV
Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:10AM
The Taliban militant group has ruled out any peace deal with the Afghan government unless Kabul scraps its military deal with Washington and all US-led foreign troops leave the war-torn Asian country.
"If the Kabul administration wants to end the war and establish peace in the country, it is possible through ending the occupation," Taliban's new leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour said in a message published on the group's website on Tuesday.
In order for peace to come about, Kabul also has to revoke "all military and security treaties with the invaders," he added.
Last year, the Upper House of Afghanistan's parliament ratified the controversial Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with Washington, according to which about 10,000 American troops would stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, when the US-led combat mission ended.
The house also approved the NATO Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which likewise empowered the US-led military alliance to keep troops in the war-torn nation in the next year.
This is while former Afghan President Hamid Karzai had refused to sign the BSA.
Further in his message, the Taliban leader called for an "intra-Afghan" solution to the problems in the Asian country, saying the chaotic situation can come to end "if the country is not under occupation."
"Any foreign pressure under the pretext of resolving the Afghan problem is not going to resolve the problem but will rather create other problems," he added.
The Taliban ruled the country between 1996 and 2001 under former leader Mullah Omar, whose death was confirmed by the militant group in July.
Mansour's rise to power has reportedly prompted a power struggle within the group, with some top leaders refusing to pledge allegiance to him, saying the process that led to his selection was rushed and biased.
In the Monday message, which appeared to be aimed at ending divisions within Taliban ranks, Mansour also said the creation of such rifts are a plot to prolong the presence of the US-led forces in the country.
In early July, representatives of Taliban and the Afghan government held a round of peace talks in the Pakistani city of Murree, north of the capital, Islamabad. The parties agreed to meet again. However, a second round planned for July 18 was canceled after the announcement of the former Taliban leader's death.
Afghanistan continues to struggle with insecurity and continuing militancy by Taliban years after US-led foreign troops invaded the country in 2001 as part of what Washington the so-called "war on terror, which removed the militant group from power.
At least 13,500 foreign forces remain in Afghanistan despite the end of the US-led combat mission.
Speaking to Press TV from the Afghan capital Kabul, Mohammad Fahim Dashti, the editor-in-chief of Kabul Weekly magazine, said the Taliban had previously made a demand for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan "while they were meeting with the Afghan government delegates in Islamabad in the summer."
Dashti also interpreted the statement as "a kind of bargaining" aimed at defining the group's position in the talks with the Afghan government. "Everyone wants to come to the peace talk table from the strong position," he said.
He, however, called the demand unrealistic, saying, "It's quite obvious that, while they (foreign troops) came to Afghanistan based on a long-term strategy" but are not leaving Afghanistan unless this strategy leads to some changes.
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