THE TALIBAN say the United States could now step forward and participate in the reconstruction of Afghanistan given how it contributed to the destruction of the country, amid the withdrawal of US-led forces after two decades of war.
‘If they want, they can participate in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, and they can have cooperation with Afghanistan, with the people of Afghanistan, in a new chapter, in a new phase,’ a Taliban spokesperson, Mohammad Suhail Shaheen, told China Global Television Network (CGTN) on Monday.
He said the Taliban group ‘welcomes the US’s participation in reconstruction and investment in the country … because they (the Americans) were involved in the destruction of Afghanistan.’
Shaheen, however, stressed that the ‘occupation must come to an end’.
As the foreign withdrawal took momentum in recent weeks, the Taliban intensified their activities, rapidly overran major cities, and eventually seized power in Afghanistan. The US is now facing growing calls from its allies to negotiate more time for evacuations.
The Taliban spokesman said that any delay in the full withdrawal of the US-led troops ‘would be a clear violation’ of an agreement reached between the Taliban and Washington last year in Qatar’s capital, Doha. In case of a violation, Shaheen said, it would be up to the Taliban leadership ‘to decide how to proceed and what to do’.
The spokesman warned the US against possible sanctions on the Taliban, saying such a move would be a ‘/biased decision’.
‘We entered a new phase – a phase of peace, of peaceful coexistence, national unity of the Afghan people. So, there is need for a lot of cooperation, financial support in this critical time,’ he said.
Shaheen also reassured that the Taliban was considering the participation of ‘all Afghan politicians, Afghan personalities in the future Afghan inclusive government.’
- Russia has slammed reported plans by the United States to deploy troops to the Central Asia region following the hasty withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Moscow did not want to see American troops in the Central Asian countries and to the south of Russia’s border as the measure would make the region a target for militant attacks.
‘First of all, Russia signed an agreement with these countries, which requires all members of the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation) to approve the deployment of foreign troops on the territory of a member state,’ Lavrov told a briefing during a visit to Hungary, referring to an intergovernmental military alliance in Eurasia that consists of several post-Soviet states.
‘Secondly, by deploying American soldiers, whose stated goal is to keep Afghanistan in the cross hairs and bomb it if needed, these countries would immediately turn themselves into a target for attacks,’ he added.
Lavrov said he doubted whether any of the countries in the region was willing ‘to help the US satisfy its initiatives’.
‘If you think that any country in Central Asia or elsewhere is interested in becoming a target so that the Americans could fulfil their initiatives, I really doubt anyone needs that,’ Lavrov stressed.
The Russian foreign minister’s remarks came after The Wall Street Journal reported on the possibility of US troops being deployed to Central Asia, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin had objected to the idea of deploying American troops in the region in his June 16 meeting with US President Joe Biden.
Russia previously warned the United States against deploying troops in the former Soviet Central Asian countries following the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Russia has warned the US against deploying its troops in the former Soviet Central Asian nations following their withdrawal from Afghanistan.
US forcing Afghans on Central Asia
The top Russian diplomat also said the US was trying to convince ‘several’ Central Asian countries to temporarily take in the Afghans who used to work with American forces in the now Taliban-controlled country.
‘They say it’s for a few months because they need time to make them visas,’ Lavrov said at the briefing in Budapest. ‘Afghans who worked with US forces were probably security checked inside out. Why do you need two more months to give these people a visa?’
Lavrov stressed that Washington’s proposal to allow Afghans fleeing the Taliban to neighbouring Moscow-allied Central Asia would undermine regional stability.
Around 1,500 Afghans have crossed into neighbouring Uzbekistan after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and are living in tents near the border, according to the Afghan Embassy in Tashkent.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu says the United States is seeking to take root in Central Asia following its withdrawal from Afghanistan, where it has faced a complete failure.
The United States and its NATO allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the pretext that the Taliban militants were harbouring al-Qaeda. The invasion removed the Taliban from power but it worsened the security situation in the country.
The militants intensified their offensive and rapidly overran major Afghan cities in recent weeks, as the US-led foreign forces enforced what was seen as a hasty withdrawal. The Taliban laid siege to Kabul on August 15, and the then-Afghan president Ashraf Ghani fled the country on the same day.
For the past two weeks, Kabul’s airport has been the scene of chaos and sporadic violence, with panicked Afghan and foreign nationals desperately trying to catch evacuation flights out of the country, prompting officials there to enforce restrictions.
- Russia has started the evacuation of hundreds of people from Afghanistan amid violent chaos at the Kabul international airport and and jitters in the Afghan capital over the takeover of the country by the Taliban militant group.
Russia’s armed forces said on Wednesday that they had begun evacuating more than 500 Russians and citizens of several ex-Soviet states from the war-torn country following the deterioration of the security situation after the US retreat from Afghanistan and the subsequent fall of the Kabul government into Taliban hands.
The armed forces said they had sent four military transport planes to fly out more than 500 citizens of Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine.
The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001. It claimed the invasion was aimed at fighting terrorism and eradicating Taliban from Afghanistan.
The evacuations were the first made public by Russia, which has taken a cautious stance toward the new Taliban leadership in Kabul.
Separately, the Russian government said it planned to request flights out of Afghanistan in September for Afghan students who wanted to study in Russia.
Russia has designated the Taliban as a terrorist group.
President Vladimir Putin has warned against letting ‘terrorists’ sneak into neighbouring countries from Afghanistan, including ‘under the guise of refugees.’
Despite the security concerns, Russia has also announced its opposition to plans by the United States to deploy troops to the Central Asia region following the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Russia has launched joint military exercises in Tajikistan and has reinforced its base there.
Russian Interfax news agency cited sources in Russia’s Defence Ministry as saying that for the joint military drills, which will last one month, Moscow had deployed a number of T-72 tanks to Tajikistan’s mountains to practice long-range firing at moving targets.