Kabul: Taliban on Saturday announced that since the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces have failed to meet the May 1 set as per the Doha Agreement to withdraw all their troops from Afghanistan, the violation of the agreement has opened the way for the group to take every counteraction it deems appropriate against them.
“We are awaiting decision from our leadership based on the sovereignty, values, and higher interests of the country,” Zabiullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesperson tweeted. He reiterated that the Taliban will act against the US and NATO forces for failing to meet the deadline.
US officials have warned the Taliban against attacking departing US forces and that such actions will be dealt with all possible force. US and international troops will respond to any Taliban action during the withdrawal process. This comes even as violence is increasing across Afghanistan in clashes and counter-clashes between the Afghan government and the Taliban. In fact, in a new quarterly Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report there has been a whopping 82% increase in “insider attacks” on Afghan government security forces in the first quarter of 2021, resulting in 115 personnel killed and 39 wounded. The report noted that ANDSF suffered a total of 31 insider attacks from January 1 to April 1, and the number of casualties they caused were more than double compared to the same period in 2020. Taliban insurgents posing as Afghan police or military personnel are behind most of these insider attacks.
Even though formal withdrawal of foreign troops began on May 1, there is little hope that the drawdown can help build peace in the war-ravaged country as the peace talks are currently on a standstill. Many experts have warned that the country will fall into the wrong hands once all the troops are out. However, the US has maintained that it will maintain an “over the horizon” support to Afghanistan.
The Pentagon’s No. 2 official said modernized technology and processes will effectively enable “over the horizon” support from outside the country. It’s not 2001, it’s 2021. The 20-year gap between the beginning of the war in Afghanistan and the soon-to-be end has brought a “wide range of tools,” including the National Counter Terror Center and the Department of Homeland Security to help protect the homeland, as well as improvements in space, cyberspace, and with unmanned systems, “and other approaches” to help protect US and allied forces.,” said Pentagon Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks. The US has already deployed an aircraft carrier and four B-52 bombers in the region to help with the process.
Pentagon planning has focused on a “safe, orderly” drawdown in the country, and Hicks said she doesn’t expect to see a “fall of Saigon” scenario where Kabul falls after U.S. and coalition forces leave.
Meanwhile in other news, Mohammad Naeem Wardak spokesperson of the Taliban political office in Qatar also denied an allegation in some media reports that the Taliban protected US forces’ bases.