In its latest statement on the summit in Moscow, the Taliban stated “we do not allow anyone to use the soil of Afghanistan against other countries including neighboring countries.”
Although the Taliban has employed similar language for years, it is a demonstrably false claim. The Taliban has continuously worked alongside jihadist organizations with regional and global aspirations, including al Qaeda.
Regardless, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, seems eager to accept the Taliban’s assurances.
After a round of talks in Doha in late January, Khalilzad claimed that “significant progress” had been made “on two vital issues: counter terrorism and troop withdrawal.”
Khalilzad clarified what he meant by “counter terrorism” during an interview with The New York Times. “The Taliban have committed, to our satisfaction, to do what is necessary that would prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a platform for international terrorist groups or individuals,” Khalilzad said.
This is remarkably credulous. As Khalilzad himself said, no agreement is yet in place. Nor has the Taliban offered any renunciation of al Qaeda in public. Therefore, he must be accepting what he was told in Doha.
Moreover, the Taliban has lied about its role in sheltering al Qaeda and affiliated groups since well before the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings. As the 9/11 Commission found, the Taliban told an American diplomat in Apr. 1998 that it didn’t know where Osama bin Laden was and, in any event, he wasn’t a threat to the United States.