By Kasim Ileri
WASHINGTON (AA) – The U.S. does not expect peace talks to resume soon between the Afghan government and Taliban under its new leader, an American general said Wednesday.
“He's the one who's been sending Fatwas [Islamic rulings] about sending suicide bombers out. He's the one that issued Fatwas that it was okay for Taliban to kill Taliban, particularly those who did not support Mullah Mansoor [Taliban’s slain leader],” said Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, a spokesman for the U.S. and NATO mission in Afghanistan, referring to the Mansoor’s replacement, Mullah Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada.
Noting that Haibatullah Akhundzada is as militant as his predecessor, Cleveland said he has “blood on his hands.
“In the short term, we don't expect him to come to the negotiating table,” he said adding that the U.S. has a hope that local Taliban groups might negotiate with the Afghan government at district level.
Mansour was killed last month in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan.
According to the general, the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorated in 2015 but the tides has turned in favor of Afghan forces as they have been trained by NATO forces.
“I think 2015 serves as probably a year that was difficult for the ANDSF and probably better for the Taliban,” he said.
He added that Afghan forces have retaken the initiative, noting that they have switched from a “defensive mindset” to and offensive one.
The Taliban is currently controlling eight to 10 districts in Afghanistan, according to Cleveland, but the militants “certainly have the ability to contest a lot more of those.
“They have the ability to conduct operations, they do have the ability to intimidate the local population and they have the ability to have some level of influence,” he said.