Taliban says it will emerge as leader of Afghanistan
A Taliban spokesperson said the Islamist movement and military organisation waging war in Afghanistan will fight any foreign presence and emerge as the country's lawful representative, amid an ongoing offensive to gain control of the country following the withdrawal of the United States military.
In an interview on Arabic-language news site Araby 21, Mohammad Naim said the group would oppose the presence of Turkish forces in Afghanistan within the framework of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
"We do not need the presence of a force that came within the framework of the invasion," Naim said.
The statement rules out the possibility that the Taliban would tolerate the presence of the Turks, with whom Afghans have religious, cultural and ethnic commonalities.
Turkey said it will not send additional troops to Afghanistan, but has offered to secure the vital Kabul international airport in a bid to improve US-Turkey relations as American and NATO troops complete their pull-out from the war-battered country.
Naim also dismissed concerns that the ongoing offensive waged by the Taliban, which now controls roughly half of the nation’s 400 districts after capitalising on the last stages of the withdrawal, would result in a civil war.
Instead, the spokesman said the Afghan government in Kabul would "collapse" and the militant group would emerge as the legitimate representative of the Afghan people.
The Taliban’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhunzada, said on Sunday he "strenuously favours" a political settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan. The comment came as representatives of the Afghan government and Taliban armed fighters sat down for a new round of talks in Doha aimed at reviving long-stalled peace talks.
For months, the two sides have been meeting on and off in the capital of Qatar. The talks appear to have lost momentum as the Taliban group make significant gains on the battlefield as foreign forces finalise their withdrawal from Afghanistan.