The COVID-19 crisis and the Ghani-Abdullah dispute could bring down the fragile peace in the country.
The Taliban has said the deal with the United States aimed at bringing peace to Afghanistan was nearing a breaking point, accusing Washington of violations that included drone attacks on civilians, while also chastising the Afghan government for delaying the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners promised in the agreement.
The Taliban said it had restricted attacks against Afghan security forces to rural outposts and had not attacked international forces or Afghan forces in cities or military installations.
The group warned of more violence if the US and the Afghan government continue alleged violations of the deal, adding that continued violations would “create an atmosphere of mistrust that will not only damage the agreements, but also force mujaheddin to a similar response and will increase the level of fighting”.
“We are seriously asking the Americans to abide by the contents of the agreement and to alert their allies to fully abide by the agreement,” the Taliban statement read.
The Taliban has accused the Afghan government of using “indefensible arguments” to explain the repeated delays in releasing a promised 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for 1,000 government personnel.
The US military in Afghanistan rejected the Taliban’s claim, saying it had upheld the military terms of the agreement and that Taliban’s assertions were “baseless”.
“USFOR-A has been clear – we will defend our ANDSF (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces) partners if attacked, in compliance with the agreement,” US Forces Afghanistan spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett tweeted.
In February, US officials and Taliban representatives signed an agreement after months of negotiations in Qatar aimed at ending the United States’ longest war, fought in Afghanistan since 2001. The deal paves the way for the gradual withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan.
Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a one-billion-dollar cut in American aid to Afghanistan after he failed to convince Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his political foe, Abdullah Abdullah, to end a feud that has helped jeopardise a US-led peace effort.
Ghani and Abdullah both claimed the presidency following a disputed September election marred by allegations of fraud.
The country’s Independent Election Commission has declared Ghani a winner, but Abdullah and the Elections Complaint Commission have charged widespread irregularities.