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Taliban say they won’t work with US to contain Islamic State

Image source: AP

Relatives and residents pray during a funeral ceremony for the victims of the terrorist attack at the Gozar-e-Sayed Abad mosque in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan, Saturday, October 9, 2021. The mosque was filled with Shia parishioners following the Islamic State’s suicide, a bomber attacked during Friday prayers, killing dozens of people as a result of the latest security challenge for the Taliban as they transition from insurgency to governance.

On Saturday, the Taliban ruled out cooperation with the United States in containing extremist groups in Afghanistan, stating their uncompromising stance on a key issue ahead of the first direct talks between former adversaries since America’s departure from the country in August.

Senior Taliban officials and US officials are due to meet on Saturday and Sunday in Doha, the capital of Qatar’s Gulf state. Officials on both sides said problems include curbing extremist groups and evacuating foreign citizens and Afghans from the country. The Taliban have shown flexibility in evacuating.

Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shahin told The Associated Press that he would not work with Washington to fight the increasingly active Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan. IS has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks, including a suicide bombing that killed 46 minority Shia Muslims and injured dozens while praying in a mosque.

“We can fight Daesh on our own,” Shaheen said when asked if the Taliban would cooperate with the US to contain the Islamic State affiliate. He used the Arabic abbreviation IS.

Since its emergence in eastern Afghanistan in 2014, IS has carried out ruthless attacks on Shia Muslims in the country. IS is also seen as the greatest threat to the United States.

The weekend meetings in Doha are the first since the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in late August, the end of the 20-year military presence and the rise to power in the country of the Taliban. The US has made it clear that negotiations are not a preamble to recognition.

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The talks also followed two days of difficult discussions between Pakistani officials and US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman in Islamabad. Afghanistan was also the focus of these talks. Pakistani officials have called on the US to work with Afghanistan’s new rulers and free up billions of dollars in international funds to stave off an economic crisis.

Pakistan also sent a message to the Taliban, urging them to become more inclusive and pay attention to human rights and its ethnic and religious minorities.

Shiite clerics in Afghanistan attacked Taliban rulers after Friday’s attack, demanding more protection for their places of worship. An IS branch claimed responsibility and identified the terrorist as a Muslim Uyger. The statement said the attack targeted both the Shiites and the Taliban for their alleged willingness to expel the Uygers in order to satisfy China’s demands. It was the deadliest attack since foreign troops left Afghanistan at the end of August.

Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at the American Wilson Center, said Friday’s attack could be a harbinger of more violence. Most of the Uyghur militants belong to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which has sought refuge in the border regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan for decades.

“If (IS )’s claim is correct, China’s concern about terrorism in[Afghanistan]to which the Taliban claims to be susceptible, will increase,” he tweeted after the attack.

Both Afghanistan and Pakistan want the expected economic benefits from China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road project linking Beijing to Central and South Asia. They were willing to ignore China’s persecution of its Muslim Uyghur population. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid last month called the Chinese project the region’s most important economic venture.

During the Doha talks, US officials will also seek to force Taliban leaders to honor commitments that will allow Americans and other foreign nationals to leave Afghanistan, along with Afghans who once worked for the military or the US government and other Afghan allies, the official said. US representative. …

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to officially talk about the meetings.

The Biden administration has filed questions and complaints about the slow pace of US-assisted evacuation from Taliban-run Afghanistan following the US withdrawal.

ALSO READ | Islamic State claims Afghan Kunduz mosque attack was carried out against Shiites

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