Taliban accuses the US of violating Doha Agreement

Taliban says keeping new cabinet members belonging to the Haqqani family on the US terror list is a clear violation of the Doha Agreement.

The Haqqani network has been accused of attacks on US forces in Afghanistan [File: Abdullah Abdullah/Reuters]

The Taliban has accused the United States of violating the peace deal the two signed in 2020, for keeping its new interior minister Sirrajudin Haqqani on the US terror list.

The new minister, who is part of the Haqqani Network, had been accused of attacks on US forces in Afghanistan during the 20 years of war. The US has a $5m bounty for Haqqani. He also remains on a United Nations terror list.

Several other members of the group, including the acting Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, are blacklisted internationally.

“Pentagon officials have remarked that some cabinet members of the Islamic Emirate or family members of the late Haqqani Sahib are on the US blacklists and still targets,” said a statement from the ministry of foreign affairs late on Wednesday.

“The Islamic Emirate considers this a clear violation of the Doha Agreement which is neither in the interest of the United States or Afghanistan,” the statement said, referring to the agreement signed in the Qatari capital.

The deal paved the way for the withdrawal of US-led foreign forces in return for a guarantee from the Taliban not to allow groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIL to operate on Afghan soil. The US forces withdrew just before an August 31 deadline in what turned out to be a chaotic exercise, ending America’s longest war.

The US-Taliban deal excluded the West-backed Afghan government led by former President Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country after Taliban fighters swept through the country last month with little resistance from government forces.

Taliban’s statement comes after the US had in the wake of the deal pledged to remove Taliban members from international sanctions.

Reporting from Kabul, Al Jazeera’s Charlotte Bellis said the statement follows Pentagon officials commenting to the media that members of the Haqqani family are still legitimate targets and remain on US blacklists.

“The Taliban are saying this is very provocative, condemning it, saying that members of the Haqqani family must be removed from the US sanctions lists immediately. They say they will continue to demand that,” said Bellis.

“A number of Haqqani family are part of the government and they are very disappointed. They say they wanted positive relations with the US. And they are very disappointed to see some of their highest leaders remaining as legitimate targets.”

“It will be very interesting to see what the US response to this statement will be,” she added.

Ahead of the Taliban’s announcement of its new cabinet this week, another member of the network and leading Taliban figure, Khalil-ur-Rahman Haqqani, was put in charge of security for Kabul.

Many Afghans are sceptical that a leader of the Haqqani Network, known to be the most brutal and violent group associated with the Taliban, could bring security to Afghanistan after years of war and violence – especially as reports of house-to-house searches and violence allegedly committed by the Taliban continue to pour in, including in Kabul.

The Taliban has denied that they are carrying out reprisals and said its members are disciplined.

Fahim Sadat, head of the International Relations department at Kabul-based Kardan University, said both the US and the Taliban were invoking the Doha Agreement to serve their separate interests.

“The reality is that the sanctions list is one of the only viable leverages of the international community which can be used against the Taliban for any concession,” Sadat told Al Jazeera from the Spanish city of Barcelona.

Protests banned

Meanwhile, the Taliban have cracked down on protests in the country, saying protests without prior approval will be banned.

“Protests have been key news this week. A couple of days ago, there was a large peaceful protests but then as the demonstrators came closer to the presidential palace, people were detained, including journalists,” said Bellis.

“Some journalists were separated in prison cells and lashed. The Taliban has since come out banning protests. They said they will allow them in certain conditions,” she added explaining that they have to be pre-approved by the government.

Several demonstrations have popped across Afghanistan in recent days.

On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Kabul chanting and calling for “freedom”, a day after resistance leader Ahmad Massoud called for an “uprising” against Taliban rule.

The demonstrations – which ranged in size from several hundred to a few dozen – were dispersed by Taliban fighters firing into the air, protesters told Al Jazeera at the time.

Journalists also said they had been prohibited from filming, with TOLONews, the country’s biggest network, saying at least one of their cameramen was detained for filming the protests.

On Thursday, protest organisers cancelled rallies in Kabul after the Taliban effectively banned demonstrations, the AFP news agency reported.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies