• publish: 22 September 2015
  • time: 7:07 pm
  • category: Politics
  • No: 1396
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No peace talks until foreign troops leave Afghanistan – Taliban say

The Taliban’s new leader told Afghanistan’s government on Tuesday it must cancel a security deal with the United States and expel all foreign troops if it wants peace.

Mullah Mansour made the demand in a message marking the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Adha, his first such message since he formally took charge after the death of founder Mullah Omar was confirmed in July.

“If the Kabul administration wants to end the war and establish peace in the country, it is possible through ending the occupation and revoking all military and security treaties with the invaders,” Mansour said in the message.

Washington and Kabul signed a security deal in September last year allowing around 13 000 foreign troops, including 10 000 US, to stay on after Nato’s combat mission ended in December 2014.

The residual force is not engaged in day-to-day fighting with the Taliban militants but focuses instead on training, support and counter-terrorism operations.

The Taliban, fighting a bloody insurgency since a US-led invasion ousted them from power in 2001, have long said the departure of “occupying” foreign troops is a necessary condition for meaningful peace talks.

“The Islamic Emirate [Taliban] believes if the country is not under occupation, the problem of the Afghans can be resolved through intra-Afghan understanding,” Mansour said in the message posted in English on the Taliban’s website.

 

Taliban Rifts

The message comes days after a group of dissident Taliban commanders denounced Mansour’s recent appointment to replace the Islamist militant group’s late leader, Mullah Omar.

Divisions within the Taliban have threatened to derail fledgling peace talks with the Afghan government and allow ISIS to expand its foothold in the region.

Mansour was hastily appointed Taliban leader in July after Afghan intelligence leaked the news that Omar, the movement’s reclusive one-eyed leader, had been dead for more than two years. Mansour was Omar’s deputy.

Many Taliban commanders oppose Mansour, blaming him for concealing news of Omar’s death and describing his appointment as irregular. Mansour sought to appease disaffected commanders and warned divisions were a creation of the enemy.

“The creation of different groups is the last conspiracy of the invaders for continuation of the American proxy war in Afghanistan,” he said in the Eid message. “God willing, the Afghan Muslim people will, through their strengthening of unity, foil this conspiracy.”

 

 

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