Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem Wardak warned on Thursday that the Taliban’s “war against the United States” would continue if incoming president Joe Biden fails to uphold the peace deal established by the Trump administration.
“The peace agreement was a big change and it stopped the war, it was not with Donald Trump, but with the United States government,” Wardak said in an interview published Thursday by the Afghan Khaama Press News Agency. “We believe that Biden administration will respect this agreement; but if the Biden administration does not accept this agreement, our war against the United States will resume and will continue until they leave Afghanistan.”
Asked by Khaama Press about continued fighting in Afghanistan, Wardak reportedly said unless foreign forces leave Afghanistan, the fighting will continue and the Taliban will have legitimacy in its actions.
“We reached an agreement after two years of negotiations with the United States, so it will take some time to resolve the issue between the Afghans, because the war in the country has been going on for 20 years,” Wardak said.
Wardak’s comments come after several U.S. news media outlets called the 2020 U.S. election for Biden, but as President Trump continues to raise legal challenges to the election results.
Under the Trump administration, the U.S. signed the peace agreement with the Taliban in February. The agreement established a cease-fire between the U.S. and the Taliban and laid out a plan for the U.S. to withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months, with the full withdrawal depending on peace conditions and the Taliban commitment to preventing terrorism in the country.
While the peace deal has been in place, and fighting between Taliban and U.S. forces in Afghanistan has ceased, the Taliban has continued to target Afghan government installations, and fighting between the Taliban and the Afghan government has persisted despite rounds of peace talks between the two sides. U.S. forces have launched strikes targeting the Taliban, in defense of besieged Afghan government forces, on a number of occasions within the confines of the current U.S.-Taliban peace agreement.
Despite some continued fighting between the Taliban and the Afghan government, the U.S. has continued forward with troop reductions, in line with the February peace agreement. On November 17, the Trump administration announced the U.S. plans to cut the number of troops currently in Afghanistan by about half, from about 4,000 to around 2,500, by January 15. The U.S. force reduction came even after reports alleged then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper told President Trump that conditions were not yet right for further U.S. troop reductions in Afghanistan.
In an October townhall-style event with CNN, Biden said he would be in favor of ending America’s long-running wars, but suggested some continued presence of U.S. forces in the region. He said, “The only presence we should have is a counterterrorism presence, not a counterinsurgency presence.”
Biden did not say if his plan would include keeping troops in Afghanistan, but he said, “We have to be in a position where we can make it clear that, if need be, we could respond to terrorist activities coming out of that region directed toward the United States. It does not require a large force presence.”