The Taliban threatened to “use all tools at its disposal to force America to understand realities” and “accept reason” after the U.S. vowed to “not allow Afghanistan to serve as a safe haven for terrorists as it did in advance of September 11, 2001.”
“We must recognize the reality that, while the Afghan Government has been adamant about its interest in initiating peace talks with the Taliban, there has been no reciprocal interest on the part of the Taliban. That must change,” Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said Friday at a United Nations Security Council Ministerial Debate on Afghanistan.
“To achieve this end, we must work together to isolate the Taliban, eliminate their sources of revenue and equipment, and demonstrate with a united and unwavering commitment that the only place they can achieve their objectives will be at the negotiating table – not on the battlefield,” he said. “Unfortunately, the international community has thus far fallen short in providing that kind of unified support to the Afghan government. We have even seen certain countries pursue counterproductive strategies that provide support to the Taliban in the name of countering ISIS. This approach is misguided, or worse, pernicious.”
U.S. commanders have repeatedly said Russia has been supplying the Taliban under the false narrative that the al-Qaeda allies are fighting ISIS.
“Supporting the Taliban only serves to prolong the conflict and foster an unstable and insecure environment, one that ISIS exploits to threaten Afghanistan and the broader region,” Sullivan said.
In a statement the next day, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said Sullivan pushed “failed tactics of warmongering U.S. generals employed over the past sixteen years which have yet to bear any fruit, rather it has increased problems for America and pushed her further towards the edge of collapse.”
“Insisting on force and coercion despite recurrent defeats and failure on the battlefield proves that either they are unable to comprehend the ground realities or are possibly seeking the extension of war so they can pursue their imperialistic goals in our country and the region,” he added. “…No doubt that with this strategy, they will launch efforts to destabilize and encourage war around the world and specifically this region.”
At least 22 people were killed Sunday at the luxury Intercontinental Hotel in a 14-hour siege that began when Taliban or Taliban-affiliated Haqqani gunmen stormed the building. Witnesses described the terrorists entering through the kitchen and spraying patrons in the dining room with gunfire before storming individual rooms and taking hostages. Terrorists then set fires on the second, third and fifth floors, forcing guests to flee the flames by tying bedsheets to their balconies and climbing or falling down.
Witnesses also described the hotel’s security guards running from the scene instead of fighting. Just three weeks ago, hotel security that had been provided by the Afghan government’s National Directorate of Security was turned over to a private firm, Kabul Balkh Security and Safety Company. ToloNews reported that the Interior Ministry is now investigating the company.
Subsequent administrations in Washington have refused to designate the Taliban as a terrorist group so that they can encourage negotiations with the al-Qaeda allies.