Mohammed Naeem, spokesperson for Taliban’s politburo, in an interview with Rudaw’s Rozhan Abubakir, said that Afghanistan, which he dubbed an Islamic Emirate, will enjoy good relations with all nations, but firmly rejects the presence of any foreign forces on Afghan soil.
“Our relations with other countries will be good, but the presence of foreign forces is totally rejected,” he said in the July 2 interview.
Turkey has offered to secure Kabul’s international airport as US troops withdraw.
Rudaw: You have been holding talks with the US in Doha for some time. What is the outcome of these talks?
Mohammed Naeem: I want to explain that our talks with the US ended more than a year ago. As you know, the agreement was signed on February 29, 2020 between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the US. The agreement was signed on that date, but it was followed by meetings and the implementation of point in the agreement. As per the agreement, all foreign forces were supposed to withdraw by April 2021, but the forces, especially the US ones, violated the agreement. They also did not stick to the promise they made in the agreement. Therefore, they postponed the withdrawal to September 11, 2021. The forces withdrew from the biggest base, Bagram, today, they withdrew from the base. As specified by the US president, they will withdraw on September 11, 2021. We expect all foreign forces to withdraw so that Afghans gain freedom themselves. Later, we will establish an independent Islamic emirate and live together in it.
What kind of governance do you want for Afghanistan in the future?
This is a good question. As you know, nearly 99 percent of Afghanistan’s population is Muslim. Therefore, laws in this state have to be drafted in a way that goes with the principles and faith of the population. Afghanistan should have an Islamic and independent system. Afghans have agreed on this. Delegations from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the other side are in Doha. Talks between Afghans have been ongoing for nearly ten months. They began on September 12, 2020 and we are currently in talks in order to reach something on issues such as government style. However, the system will definitely be Islamic.
The Taliban used to control Afghanistan and has governance experience. If they regain power, will their governance be different to the past?
There are some points to be highlighted. As you know, there have been invasions in the last 20 years. There was a political and economic embargo on us. We were not even allowed to speak with the media and express our opinions. We are still under embargo, while they have been free to express what they have wanted. There are untrue claims. However, as you know, only with the withdrawal of foreign forces, people are coming to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and all institutions are coming to the Islamic Emirate without a fight. Therefore, what they are saying is not true. We want an Islamic system. Regarding women’s rights, we guarantee all rights provided by Islamic law. The same is true for all human rights. The main source of our work is the Quran and the method used by the Prophet. Our laws source from Islamic principles. We will govern as per these principles and Afghans.
Does the Taliban want to control the whole of Afghanistan?
Afghanistan is our soil. How can the Taliban or the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan control it? This is our own soil. It cannot be controlled by other people. Afghans own this soil and we own this soil as well. We have not come from other countries, they have. They invaded our soil and killed our people. They have been bombarding us for 20 years. However, we are the sons of this homeland and our people are united. We will govern all of Afghanistan with the help of people, and we will progress. Our people want a happy and independent life.
As seen in reports, many Afghans want to flee the country, fearing your governance. How can you assure Afghans that they will live in security?
I think the best guarantee is practice. You have seen how we have treated people and how they have treated us. They join the ranks of the mujahedeen with their own weapons. They are welcomed by the mujahedeen and then go to their homes. No one will be harmed and they will live in peace. This is good proof that we are part of the people and they are part of us. Some people publish untrue propaganda against us. The reality is that we tolerate everyone and we assure our people and all neighboring and international countries that we will have good relations with them, especially the Islamic ones.
What do you think of the news about the handover of some US bases and an airport in Afghanistan to Turkey? As you know there are talks between the US and Turkey on this.
The issue of foreign forces and their withdrawal has already been finalized. As per our agreement, all forces have to withdraw, except for diplomatic missions. This issue has been finalized. Anyone who wants to stay in our country, we will definitely see them as invaders. They should not stay here with a military force. However, we will have good relations with all of them. We assure our people, who have been living with wars for 40 years. Wars have destroyed everything. We expect international support from the neighboring and regional countries. Our relations with other countries will be good, but the presence of foreign forces is totally rejected.
Do you insist that the foreign forces should not remain there? The US and its allies have decided to withdraw, but forces will still remain.
As I said, they had specified in September 2020 for the withdrawal, but unfortunately they violated the agreement. The US president has announced that they will totally withdraw before September 11, 2021. We expect them to totally withdraw by then. We do not expect them to keep any foreign troops here. Surely, if they remain here there will be a great problem. This is not in the interests of Afghans or other nations who will keep troops in Afghanistan.
An Afghan MP said that Iran provided the Taliban with weapons. Has the Taliban received or will it receive any aid from Iran?
This is merely propaganda. As you may have seen, some videos have circulated in the world that show that mujahedeen have received a large amount of weapons from the forces that came to Kabul. You know that the mujahedeen have been fighting with light weapons like guns and rifles since the beginning. They do not have tanks or planes. There has been fighting in Afghanistan for 40 years. The weapons are those that remained from the Soviet Union and the mujahedeen have light weapons. Everyone can obtain these weapons and we have not received any new weapons from anyone.
You insist on establishing an Islamic state in Afghanistan. How will the relations of this Islamic state be with neighboring countries?
We still have relations with all neighboring, regional, and other countries. We have also made visits. You hear from the news that we have had visits to China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, Japan, France, Norway, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. We have good relations with all countries. We will have no problem. The Afghan system will be as per Sharia principles.
After the withdrawal of US and NATO, can Afghanistan handle security challenges?
We will try and we have proven in the past when we controlled more than 95 percent of this country. Secondly, there are no armed groups except for the political parties from the Kabul administration. We want to resolve our problems with the political parties in Kabul through dialogue. The talks are held here in Doha. All or most of the parties have representatives here. We want to resolve all issues through dialogue. God willing, there will be no problem in Afghanistan and the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan proved this 10 years ago when it controlled 70 percent. Now, 80 percent of Afghanistan soil is under our control. There are no other groups there. People are with the Islamic Emirates and the Islamic Emirates is with the people. We work for the interests of people and homeland.
Header: Taliban officials led by the movement’s chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (C, front) attend peace talks between senior Afghan politicians and Taliban negotiators in Moscow, Russia, May 29, 2019. © Reuters / Evgenia Novozhenina