Karzai would be ‘wise to leave with US forces’ before Taliban retakes Afghanistan
RT:The US State Department is hesitating to define the Taliban’s current status - whether it is a terrorist group, a political force, or both. Why is it so reticent?
Moeen Raoof: I don’t think they are dealing with the actual Taliban, because Mullah Omar has not endorsed the starting up of the office in Doha. So the Americans are not sure who they are dealing with, and if they are dealing with the Taliban, it’s probably Taliban light. Mullah Omar is a very powerful person, and he has to sign off on these kinds of peace talks. And Secretary Kerry seems to be stumbling all the time. He is stumbling with the peace talks in Syria, and all of a sudden there is confusion about the peace talks in Doha, Qatar. So I’m not sure that they are really talking to the Taliban directly.
RT:What about the current government in Afghanistan? How strong is it?
MR: President Karzai hasn’t got a chance in hell to remain in power once US forces would leave in 2014. Let’s go back to President Najibullah – he was forcibly removed from the UN offices and he was massacred in the streets and hung up…I think that if Karzai is a wise man, he would leave with the US forces. But given that US forces are planning to remain in Afghanistan, maybe that gives him some leeway to remain in power for a while.
RT:What if Karzai did leave? Who would take over the leadership of Afghanistan?
MR: Well, the Taliban is going to move in. They have stated that they are going to move in and protect the country. This has been their policy for a long time…They are going to take back power and protect the country. They are very fundamentalist about this viewpoint.
RT: If the Taliban is to take control of Afghanistan, will more than a decade of death and destruction have been a waste of time?
MR: Yes, completely. Remember the 9/11 attacks were done by a Saudi Arabian, and they [the US] went and attacked Afghanistan. Why did they not go and attack Saudi Arabia? The strategy to attack Afghanistan was completely flawed. They didn’t think this through. They’d go after one man and destroy a whole nation. It was a flawed policy by the Pentagon and the US administration. So yes, the Taliban is going to move in and take over power. And Mullah Omar has not stated that he endorses these peace talks, because [the Taliban] does not operate and does not want any external interference in the affairs of the nation.
RT:The Taliban has opened a “political office” in Qatar. If it eventually takes over in Afghanistan, will the world be forced to recognize it as a legitimate government?
MR: They have no choice. Who are these representatives in Doha? Are they representing Mullah Omar or the Taliban high command? We don’t know. We don’t have the answers for that.
RT:Do people in Afghanistan really want the Taliban government?
MR: Well, it’s not everyone’s preference, no.