The insurgent group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says Washington will regret abandoning negotiations a day after President Donald Trump said talks with the group were “dead.” A US military personnel stands during a change of command ceremony at Resolute Support in Kabul on September 2, 2018. (AFP Archive) The Afghan Taliban on Tuesday vowed to continue fighting against US forces in Afghanistan, saying Washington would regret abandoning negotiations a day after President Donald Trump said talks with the group were “dead.”
The renewed war of words between the two sides raised the spectre of violence in Afghanistan as Trump and the Taliban pledged to take the fight to each other following the precipitous collapse in talks.
“We had two ways to end occupation in Afghanistan, one was jihad and fighting, the other was talks and negotiations,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
“If Trump wants to stop talks, we will take the first way and they will soon regret it.”
The Taliban's statement came after Trump told reporters that the US was walking away from negotiations after nearly a year of talks that aimed to pave the way for an American withdrawal from Afghanistan following 18 years of war.
“They are dead. As far as I am concerned, they are dead,” Trump said at the White House after a Taliban attack last week in Kabul killed one US soldier and 11 other people.
Hitting our enemy harder
The announcement followed Trump's dramatic cancellation of a top-secret plan to fly Taliban leaders in for direct talks at the Camp David presidential facility outside Washington.
Driving another nail into the coffin of what had appeared to be nearly finalised negotiations, Trump said a US military onslaught on the guerrillas was at its fiercest level in a decade.
“Over the last four days, we have been hitting our Enemy harder than at any time in the last ten years!” he wrote in a tweet.
On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “We've killed over a thousand Taliban in just the last 10 days.”
Trump angrily denied that the whiplash effect of his sudden shifts on Afghanistan was causing turmoil.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban group’s top political leader, third from left, arrives with other members of the Taliban delegation for talks in Moscow, Russia. (AP) A lot of Fake News is being reported that I overruled the VP and various advisers on a potential Camp David meeting with the Taliban. This Story is False! I always think it is good to meet and talk, but in this case I decided not to. The Dishonest Media likes to create…
? Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2019 'My own advice'
Until this weekend, there had been steadily mounting expectations of a deal that would see the US draw down troop levels in Afghanistan.
In return, the Taliban would offer security guarantees to keep extremist groups out.
But then on Saturday, Trump revealed that he had cancelled an unprecedented meeting between the Taliban and himself at storied Camp David.
The cancellation ? announced on Twitter ? was the first time most Americans learned that such a dramatic meeting was even planned.
Many in Washington were shocked and some were angry that the Taliban had been about to visit the presidential retreat on the eve of the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
There was also widespread consternation at the characteristically unpredictable manner of Trump's negotiating style.
But Trump denied any discord among government members, including Vice President Mike Pence.
In a tweet, he accused journalists of trying “to create the look of turmoil in the White House, of which there is none.”
A foreign soldier with NATO-led Resolute Support Mission inspects the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. September 5, 2019. (Reuters) Getting out of Afghanistan
A big part of Trump's 2016 election victory and subsequent first term in office has been his determination to keep the US out of what he sees as unnecessary wars in Syria and other mostly Muslim countries.
Despite a fiercely pro-Israeli foreign policy and the presence of hawks like national security adviser John Bolton in his cabinet, he has so far resisted escalating the military standoff with longtime foe Iran.
Getting out of Afghanistan, where US troops have fought a largely fruitless battle against the Taliban over nearly two decades, was a top priority.
It is widely thought that Trump has been pushing for a withdrawal of US troops in time for his 2020 reelection bid.
Trump repeated on Monday that he wanted “to get out by the earliest possible time.”