Taliban Declare War After Trump Says Talks ‘Dead’
News ID: 70319
Date: 10 September 2019 - 22:01
KABUL (Dispatches) -- The Taliban on Tuesday vowed to continue fighting against U.S. forces in Afghanistan after President Donald Trump said talks with insurgents were "dead,” saying Washington would regret abandoning negotiations.
"We had two ways to end occupation in Afghanistan, one was jihad and fighting, the other was talks and negotiations,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.
"If Trump wants to stop talks, we will take the first way and they will soon regret it.”
The Taliban's statement came hours after Trump told reporters that the U.S. was walking away from negotiations after nearly a year of talks that aimed to pave the way for an American withdrawal from Afghanistan following 18 years of invasion.
"They are dead. As far as I am concerned, they are dead,” Trump said at the White House.
The announcement followed Trump's dramatic cancellation of a top-secret plan to fly Taliban leaders in for direct talks at the Camp David presidential facility outside Washington.
Driving another nail into the coffin of what had appeared to be nearly finalized negotiations, Trump said a U.S. military onslaught on the guerrillas was at its fiercest level in a decade.
"Over the last four days, we have been hitting our Enemy harder than at any time in the last ten years!” he wrote in a tweet.
Afghans braced for a possible new wave of violence Monday after Trump abruptly broke off the talks.
The Taliban said Trump’s decision to upend the deal just before its signing "displays lack of composure and experience,” and they vowed to continue their fight against "foreign occupation.”
"What more violence can they bring?” Afghan presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said in an interview. "What else can they do? You know they have killed 300 civilians in the past three weeks. ... So we will not be surprised if we see more attacks, but they have already done it.”
Political analyst Waheed Muzhda was gloomy about the prospects for the country.
"Unfortunately all the months of efforts came to an end with no result,” he said, "and I think the fight in Afghanistan will continue for long years.”
Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians and more than 2,400 American troops have been killed in nearly 18 years of war that began when the U.S. invaded after the Sept. 11 attacks. The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, when they were ousted by the U.S. military for hosting the mastermind of 9/11, Osama bin Laden.
Afghans were wary of fresh violence in part because Trump’s announcement came shortly before a string of highly sensitive days in Afghanistan, including Monday’s anniversary of the killing of anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, the major holy day of Ashura on Tuesday, and Wednesday’s 9/11 anniversary.
There were no immediate reports of any major attacks in the country, but the streets of the capital, Kabul, were largely empty as armed supporters of Massoud, a rare Afghan unifying figure who was killed two days before 9/11, roamed in flag-draped vehicles.
In calling off negotiations, Trump cited a Taliban car bombing Thursday near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul that killed an American service member along with 11 others. The insurgent group has defended its continued attacks even while a deal was taking shape, saying they were intended to strengthen its bargaining position.