Despite ongoing Taliban violence, the group’s No. 1 in Afghanistan says he’s ready to work toward a more inclusive government — but without the help of the U.S.
In an emailed statement, Mullah Omar said he’s willing to move forward with peace negotiations and has no plans to monopolize power when foreign troops withdraw from Afghanistan next year.
Instead, he pledges the Taliban will try to reach an understanding with the Afghan people for a quote, “inclusive government based on Islamic principles.”
According to The Express Tribune that message is “a major shift in the militia’s policy of not talking to other Afghan groups and the Karzai government.”
This speech also falls in line with the reported informal talks between the Taliban and representatives of Afghan President Hamid Karzai in hopes of starting that peace process.
But despite promises of peace, Omar vowed to continue targeting U.S. troops as long as they remain in Afghanistan. (Video via ABC)
Omar said the only way the Taliban will work with the U.S. if they understand that, “An Islamic system and complete independence are values which we are not willing to strike a deal on with anyone.” (Via Sky News)
Perhaps not all that surprising given the continuous attacks on U.S. troops. When the White House announced the start of peace talks back in June, the Taliban responded by attacking a U.S. airbase, killing four. (Via CNN)
And reiterating previous comments, Omar also called on Afghans to boycott next year's presidential elections. In Omar’s words, they are a waste of time — accusing Washington of hand-picking the candidates.
That said, a BBC correspondent explains, “The elections are being seen as a key test of Afghanistan's progress since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.”