ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - The Taliban has called on U.S. President Donald Trump to pull out all forces from Afghanistan as a “responsible” leader of the United States and stop listening to “stooges” in Kabul.
In a so-called “open letter” to the American president Tuesday, the Islamist insurgent group asserted that “a number of war mongering congressmen and generals” are pressing Trump to prolong the Afghan conflict “because they seek to preserve their military privileges.”
About 8,400 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan, training, advising and assisting local forces under a NATO-led military coalition, in addition to conducting counterterrorism operations.
“If you failed to win the Afghan war with disciplined U.S. and NATO troops, advanced technology, experienced military generals, consecutive strategies and mighty economy, you shall never be able to win it with mercenaries, notorious contractor firms and immoral stooges,” said the Taliban letter.
The insurgency's main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, released the letter to media outlets, including VOA.
While preparing its new military strategy for Afghanistan, the Trump administration is reviewing various options ranging from troop withdrawal to an increased reliance on private security contractors to help Afghan security forces reverse Taliban territorial gains.
“We have noticed that you have understood the errors of your predecessors and have resolved to thoroughly rethinking your new strategy in Afghanistan,” noted the Taliban letter.
“You must also not handover the Afghan issue to warmongering generals but must make a decision where history shall remember you as an advocate of peace,” it said. The letter also alleged U.S. generals are “concealing” casualties the Taliban is inflicting on American forces.
The statement went on say that the Afghan conflict could be resolved by the withdrawal of U.S.-led foreign “occupation” forces from the country.
“Therefore it would be better for you to understand the realities as a responsible president of the United States and then make decisions based upon them,” it added.
Commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson has requested several thousand additional troops to help Afghan forces break the military “stalemate” with the Taliban. Some influential Republican congressmen also have supported the call for troop surge.
The Taliban has made unprecedented battlefield gains since the beginning of 2017, inflicting heavy casualties on Afghan forces. The insurgents also have besieged several provincial capitals and blocked main highways that cross Afghanistan.
“You must realize that these repulsive sellouts neither care about your interests nor that of their own nation, rather the only thing they hold dear is retaining their seat of power and securing their personal interests,” said the Taliban letter, while taking aim at the Afghan government.
Corruption in security related Afghan state institutions and emerging political rivalries within President Ashraf Ghani’s national unity government, critics say, have enabled the Taliban to increase its influence.
Afghan officials have not commented on the Taliban letter, nor has there been a reaction from the Trump administration.
Taliban spokesman Mujahid, meanwhile, has denied as "baseless propaganda" official claims of him being injured during Afghan forces' operations in northern Faryab province.
A regional military commander told reporters Tuesday Mujahid received "serious injuries" but similar previous official assertions had turned out to be untrue.