Afghanistan’s Taliban have accused the United States of blocking their way to gain international recognition for the Islamist group’s new government in Kabul.
The rebel-ruling group seized power last August and installed an all-male interim administration after nearly 20 years of US-led foreign military intervention in the war-torn South Asian country.
When asked if the Taliban’s chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid was responsible for the delay in winning legitimacy, the policies of his group or any country, he said, “As far as recognition by foreign countries is concerned, I think that The United States is the biggest obstacle.”
“This [America] does not allow other countries to move forward in this direction and itself has not taken any step in this direction.”
The Mujahid claimed that the Taliban had met “all requirements” to grant diplomatic recognition to his government.
He stressed that all countries, including the United States, need to realize that political engagement with the Taliban is in the “interest of all”. This would allow the world to formally discuss their “grievances” with the Taliban.
Mujahid stressed that Taliban leaders want “better” bilateral relations with the US in line with the agreement reached between the two countries in Doha, Qatar in February 2020. He said Washington also needs to move forward in establishing better relations with Kabul.
“We were the enemy and were fighting the United States until it occupied Afghanistan. That war is now over.”
No country has yet recognized the Taliban as the country’s legitimate rulers, mainly because of their harsh treatment of Afghan women and girls. The group is also being pressured to govern the country through a broad-based political system where all Afghan groups are represented to ensure long-term national stability.
Since taking control of Afghanistan 10 months ago, the Taliban have suspended secondary education for most teenage girls and barred female employees from returning to their duties in some government departments.
The Ministry of Vice and Virtue, which works to interpret and enforce the Taliban’s version of Islam, has ordered women to wear face coverings in public. Women are barred from traveling more than 70 kilometers unless they have a male relative.
The Taliban rejected calls to lift the ban on women and the Mujahid also defended them. “Orders … are in relation to women” [Islamic] Sharia, and these are the rules of Sharia,” he insisted.
The Taliban, the Mujahid said, are “religiously” obliged to implement Islamic Sharia, in order to counter practices that ban Islam.
“Hopefully, Afghan women will also not demand things that are against the principles of Islam.”
Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors and regional countries have also urged Taliban officials to ease their restrictions on women before they can consider opening formal ties with Kabul.
,[An] An inclusive ethnic political government should be the first step in this direction. We make no secret of it, and we say so to our Afghan allies,” Russian special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said earlier this week, when asked if Moscow was close to legitimizing the Taliban.
Additionally, scholars in many Islamic countries have rejected the Taliban’s ban on female education and other policies limiting women’s access to public life.
The presence of al-Qaeda
The Mujahid claimed that neither al-Qaeda nor any of its members are present in the country, adding that they all left Afghanistan for their countries of origin after the US-led military offensive of October 2001.
On September 11, 2001, Washington blamed the leaders of the terrorist network for plotting attacks on the US from then-Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
At the time, only three countries – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – recognized the Taliban. During its rule from 1996–2001, the group completely banned women and girls from receiving education in public life, leading to diplomatic isolation in Afghanistan.
The Mujahid reiterated Kabul’s resolve that it would not allow anyone to threaten the US and its allies using Afghan soil. “We are ready for this, but only if more steps are taken to build mutual trust and strengthen political ties.”
A UN report said last month that the Taliban maintained close ties with al-Qaeda, pointing to the alleged presence of the network’s “main leadership” in eastern Afghanistan, including its leader Ayman al-Zawahri. are also included.
However, the report noted that neither al-Qaeda nor the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) “are considered capable of escalating international attacks as quickly as possible before 2023, regardless of their intent or the Taliban’s”. Does it work or not? them.”