Afghanistan’s airspace is occupied, says Taliban’s acting defense minister

Taliban’s acting defense minister Mohammad Yaqub Mujahid at a gathering in Kabul on Thursday indirectly pointed to the presence of drones in the country’s airspace, saying that Afghanistan’s airspace is occupied and that they clearly see the situation but cannot take action to prevent it.

Mujahid, who addressed a graduation ceremony of Taliban soldiers, stressed the need to enhance the number of weapons and military equipment and said there is a need to strengthen knowledge as well.

“Today we see that they’re flying above us and our airspace has been occupied. I clearly see it. You clearly see it. Ministers, commanders, corps commanders, generals, all can see it but they cannot do anything,” Mujahid said.

The remarks come as there are reports about the existence of drones in Afghanistan’s airspace. In July 2022, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri was killed in a US drone strike that targeted his residence in downtown Kabul. Taliban said it was a violation of Afghanistan’s airspace by the US.

Meanwhile, Mujahid told Taliban members to avoid “blind obedience” from anyone.

“God has given us wisdom and has obliged us to avoid obeying anyone blindly. Even I should not be obeyed blindly,” he said.

His comments come as there are reports about rifts among Taliban leaders after remarks by some of them in recent weeks. Analysts say part of the rift is about Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada’s decisions regarding women’s education and work.