Turkey should also withdraw from Afghanistan, says Taliban spokesman

Lahore, 15th June: Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has said Turkey should also withdraw from Afghanistan.

The Taliban are opposed to a fanciful Turkish initiative for a contingent of Ankara’s troops to remain in the country to guard Kabul airport after the US and international forces complete their withdrawal from the country in September.

Contacted by Reuters through text, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen rightly bundled Muslim-majority Turkey with other NATO members, affirming the groups’ stance that it was imperative all foreign troops leave.

When Turkish forces joined ISAF in 2001, the NATO mission was established after the Taliban were ousted from power, but they did not play a significant role in the fighting.

Shaheen said Turkey had been part of NATO forces for the past 20 years, so it should withdraw from Afghanistan on the basis of an agreement reached with the United States on February 29, 2020.

But he praised Turkey as a “great Islamic country” and said Kabul and Ankara were bound by historical ties.

At the same time, the Taliban will emerge victorious with confidence as Afghanistan moves toward civil war after the withdrawal of foreign troops.

“We hope to have close and friendly relations with Turkey because a new Islamic government has been established in the country,” he said.

At a NATO meeting in May, Turkish government officials advised on the security of the country’s airport, the only way for diplomats and humanitarian workers to enter Afghanistan.

Government forces continue to fight the Taliban, who occupy rural Afghanistan and parts of the capital.

The so-called “peace process”, after collecting the negotiators on both sides, has stalled since September.

Officials quoted in a piece published by The New York Times on Thursday said the unusual circumstances after US withdrawal, Pentagon is considering the use of warplanes and armed drones.

The lure of trying to enhance its value by crafting strategic utility must be resisted by Ankara which would be far better off concentrating on internal challenges and domestic development.

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