Reactions follow Biden’s remarks on armed groups in Afghanistan

US President Joe Biden in his office. Photo published by the White House on July 9, 2022.

US President Joe Biden’s recent statements regarding the non-existence of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and the US seeking assistance from the Taliban in combating the group have sparked further reactions. Some have interpreted the remarks as evidence of the Taliban being utilized as a proxy group for implementing geopolitical projects in Afghanistan.

During a questioning session on Friday about any mistakes made during the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, Biden responded, “Remember what I said about Afghanistan? I said al-Qaeda would not be there. I said we’d get help from the Taliban. What’s happening now? What’s going on? Read your press. I was right.”

“It’s so rare to see a person from the West acknowledging hypocrisy and criticizing the Doha deal conspiracy. The withdrawal was the right of the US/NATO, but betrayal, back-stabbing, deception, and the abandonment of values and principles were not expected from those who consider themselves champions of democratic values and human rights. For geopolitical reasons, they made a secret alliance with a terrorist group. Shame,” commented former vice president Amrullah Saleh.

Taliban’s acting foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, in an interview with Al Jazeera did not specifically mention al-Qaeda but regarded Biden’s acknowledgment of the absence of armed groups in Afghanistan as an “acknowledgment of reality.”

“The Taliban has pledged to protect US interests and prevent any threats to the region and Afghanistan,” stated Mir Afzal Haidari, former head of the internal security committee of Afghanistan’s annulled parliament. “The Taliban’s two-year rule serves as a testament to America’s relationship with the Taliban, as well as the weekly financial assistance provided by the US.”

Fazl Ahmad Manawi, former justice minister and member of the resistance front, criticized the Taliban for being a proxy group willing to do whatever it takes to maintain power.

However, analysts suggest that Biden’s remarks were more politically motivated and related to upcoming elections rather than having other objectives.

“Osama’s sons have visited Afghanistan multiple times over the past two years, indicating that the Taliban still maintains close ties with al-Qaeda and cannot sever this relationship,” explained Aryan Sharif, former chief of a research office at Afghanistan’s National Security Council. “While there may be some tactical-level operations, there is a lack of strategic operations that can eliminate al-Qaeda and other related groups.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted on Sunday that Biden’s remarks demonstrate their commitment to the promises they have made.

This comes as a UN committee report released last month stated that the Taliban continues to maintain close relations with al-Qaeda.