KABUL: A former official of the Taliban militant group has cast doubt on US administration’s seriousness about peace prospects in the wake of an escalation of tensions in the Middle East – as the attention of American statesmen could have been riveted to Iraq.
“In the light of recent events in Iraq pertaining to a pressure on the U.S. to withdraw, my opinion is that Americans seem reluctant to sign a peace deal with the Taliban,” said Seyed Akbar Aqa, an ex-Taliban leader.
“Given the haughty situation in the Middle East, the U.S. is misconstruing that a peace deal would have dastardly implications, that they would have to leave Afghanistan and the entire Middle East,” he said.
In the ongoing peace negotiations in Doha, the Taliban have no substantial precondition, except for a U.S. troop drawdown. But now, Americans keep coming up with new preconditions before an agreement could be hammered out, he said.
Akbar Aqa believed that circumstances are sound for an ultimate peace agreement, but American negotiators are pushing with a new demand for the Taliban to extend the reduction of violence – “a demand which I don’t think the Taliban will cave to”.
This is as the United States is clutching at straws to persuade the Taliban to enter intra-Afghan dialogue and to announce ceasefire – which the militant group has shown resilience against and pressuring the US for a troop withdrawal.