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2 Mar, 2019 15:46

Taliban & Afghan army can crush ISIS & any terrorist group IF they team up – Russian envoy

Taliban & Afghan army can crush ISIS & any terrorist group IF they team up – Russian envoy

The Taliban can be instrumental in defeating Islamic State in Afghanistan if it stops being a threat to the Kabul government and joins forces with the Afghan army, Russia’s special envoy to the country told RT.

The Western-backed Afghan government is seeking to make peace with the Taliban following 18 years of deadly animosity, but a deal between the bitter rivals could actually go far beyond a ceasefire, according to Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s long-serving presidential envoy for Afghanistan. The common enemy – namely Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) – is a factor that may put them on the same side.

If the Taliban… joins hands with the Afghan army and police, they will eliminate [Islamic State] on Afghan soil.

Though unlikely at the moment, such a powerful alliance “can crush any foreign terrorist organization on its soil,” Kabulov said. The Taliban has demonstrated its distaste for IS militants when they began spreading in some of Afghanistan’s provinces, but over the years the mutual hostility evolved into open confrontation.

Some low-ranked Taliban commanders did defect to IS, but such cases were occasional, the diplomat noted. In general, the militant movement declared Islamic State to be the “enemy of the Afghan people and Islam,” making any alliance between the two virtually impossible.

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The comment comes on the heels of political bickering over the future of Afghanistan. Earlier in February, a host of Afghan delegates held talks in Moscow with Taliban emissaries, with both sides proclaiming that they are determined to lay the groundwork for a peace deal.

We have Afghans on both sides of the frontline and it is time for them to come and solve national issues without foreign interference, but with foreign help.

The Taliban is demanding that all foreign troops leave the country and that the US stop bombing civilians. Beyond that, the militant movement suggests that a constitution be put in place that would respect the interests of all the people of Afghanistan, guaranteeing human rights and the rights of women.

“If there is an Afghan government, the Taliban is ready to not only talk but to reconcile with [it], of course they can do it on their own,” Kabulov stated.

Notably, General John Nicholson, commander of the US forces in Afghanistan, had earlier reflected on the same idea, saying the Taliban was fighting Islamic State, which he “encouraged.” Just a few months prior, Nicholson had said that such claims were widely exaggerated and were part of a narrative used by Russia to legitimize the group.

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