WASHINGTON: The Taliban’s chief negotiator has claimed that the United States is on the verge of defeat and will quit Afghanistan soon, the Voice of America (VOA) broadcasting service reported on Tuesday.
The semi-official US news outlet reported that Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai made the assertions in an April 28 speech to an “internal gathering” in Doha, Qatar, saying that either American “will leave of their own accord, or they will be forced out.”
Mr Stanekzai made these remarks just two days before he led a Taliban team into fresh talks with US interlocutors. Pro-Taliban social media outlets on Friday released video of Mr Stanekzai’s speech, one day after the US special reconciliation envoy Zalmay Khalilzad wrapped up the week-long negotiations with Taliban representatives in Doha.
Mr Stanekzai can be heard praising the bravery of the Afghan nation for defeating past British and Soviet invasions of their country and resisting the current foreign military presence.
“God has helped us defeat two superpowers in the last century. The third super power that we are currently confronted with is also on the verge of defeat,” he said.
On Saturday, former US Defence Chief Robert Gates warned that there’s a “real risk” that if American troops withdraw from Afghanistan before the Afghan government is stable, the Taliban might retake control of the country.
Last week, Ambassador Khalilzad claimed in a tweet his talks with the Taliban were making “steady but slow progress on aspects of the framework for ending the Afghan war.”
However, the current pace of talks was not sufficient “when so much conflict rages and innocent people die,” he added.
Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2019