A Taliban spokesman said Monday that the Taliban are ready to normalize relations with many countries, including those that “invaded” Afghanistan, a signal that the group wants to open up with the West.
Spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi told Arabi21 that the “Taliban movement in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” would “build relations with all neighboring countries, including Pakistan, within the framework of mutual respect, while taking into account national interest.”
The Taliban has been trying to ease concerns over their treatment of women. During previous Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, women were not allowed to work or go to school, something Taliban officials say will be allowed under the new government while maintaining that the law will be guided by Islam. Ahmadi said, “Women will be granted all the rights according to Islamic Sharia.”
Discussing the changes the Taliban have made since 2001, Ahmadi mentioned the “amnesty” that was granted to people who worked under the now-defunct US-backed Afghan government. “The first and most important change for Taliban is the change that brought peace and general amnesty to the country, which is the establishment and activation of institutions and addressing people’s problems smoothly,” he said.
As the Taliban is seeking international recognition, it is promising that groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS will not gain a foothold in Afghanistan. Mohammed Naeem, another Taliban spokesman, told Saudi TV on Sunday that al-Qaeda is “not present in Afghanistan in the first place.”
US officials have been hyping the threat of ISIS-K, the Central Asian ISIS affiliate. The Taliban is a sworn enemy of ISIS-K and has fought against them for years. The US has helped the Taliban fight ISIS, even providing them with air support. Last year, a report from The Washington Post revealed that a unit of the Joint Special Operation Command (JSOC) was operating drones in support of the Taliban. The JSOC unit called themselves the “Taliban Air Force.”