The Taliban on Wednesday warned Afghanistan’s neighbours against allowing the United States to use their territory or air space for any future military operations against the war-torn nation.
The group issued the warning as Washington plans to reposition some troops in the region to carry out Afghan counterterrorism missions once US and NATO exit from the landlocked nation.
The Taliban cautioned in a statement that facilitating US military operations by neighboring countries in the future will be a “grave historical mistake and a disgrace.” It denounced the presence of foreign forces as “the root cause” of insecurity and war in the region.
“The people of Afghanistan will not remain idle in the face of such heinous and provocative acts,” the group warned without elaborating further.
President Joe Biden announced last month that the remaining 2,500 troops, along with thousands of NATO partners, will leave Afghanistan by September 11 to end what he said was the “forever war.”
The drawdown stemmed from a peace-building agreement the United States signed with the Taliban in February 2020. But the insurgents have not reduced violence nor have their US-brokered peace talks with the Afghan government achieved any breakthroughs, raising concerns the country would descend into more chaos and bloodshed once the foreign troop drawdown is complete.
The pact binds the Taliban not to allow Afghan soil for terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies.
However, continuing and intensified hostilities between the Afghan parties to the conflict have raised concerns that transnational terrorist groups, including al-Qaida and Islamic State, could turn Afghanistan again into a sanctuary.
“As we have repeatedly assured others that our soil will not be used against security of others, we are similarly urging others not to use their soil and airspace against our country,” the Taliban reiterated.
“If such a step is taken, then the responsibility for all the misfortunes and difficulties lies upon those who commit such mistakes.”
There are no US bases in any of the six countries that border Afghanistan.
Pakistan, which shares a 2,600-kilometer border with Afghanistan, on Tuesday ruled out the possibility of hosting a US base, or of allowing “kinetic drone” operations in Afghanistan from Pakistani soil.
On Monday, Russia’s presidential envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have both assured Moscow that hosting military bases was “impossible” for them, narrowing options for Washington for its military posture once the withdrawal from Afghanistan is complete.
Iran also shares a long border with Afghanistan, but Tehran’s persistent tensions and mistrust with Washington, experts say, leave that option out.