KABUL: The Taliban on Tuesday morning condemned as a violation of the 2020 Doha agreement a US drone strike in a residential area of Kabul, which Washington said killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
US President Joe Biden announced on Monday evening that a “precision strike” had killed Al-Zawahiri, who the US leader said was sheltering in the center of the Afghan capital.
Biden said he hoped Al-Zawahiri’s death would bring “a small measure of peace to the 9/11 families and to all those who suffered at the hands of al-Qaeda.”
Al-Zawahiri, 71, an Egyptian-born doctor, was on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list with a $25 million bounty on his head. He had helped coordinate the 9/11 al-Qaeda attacks on the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people, and took over the group when its leader Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces in Pakistan in 2011.
Since Biden’s announcement, the FBI has updated Al-Zawahiri’s status to “deceased.”
The Taliban did not confirm whether anyone was killed in the drone attack, or whether Al-Zawahiri was in Kabul. Taliban chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said only that a preliminary investigation found the attack in the Shirpur district of downtown Kabul was “carried out by American drones”.
The area where Al-Zawahiri’s residence is believed to have been located was cordoned off by security forces, blocking media access to the site. The neighborhood is a diplomatic enclave home to many senior Taliban leaders.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan strongly condemns this attack regardless of the cause and calls it a flagrant violation of international principles and the Doha agreement,” Mujahid said in a statement.
“Such actions are a repeat of the failed experiments of the past 20 years and run counter to the interests of the United States, Afghanistan and the region. Repeating such actions will damage existing opportunities.
The Doha agreement between the Taliban and Washington led to the withdrawal of US-led foreign forces from the country before the Taliban took control of the country in August last year.
Foreign troops had been stationed in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion that ended the Taliban’s first term in power. It came after Washington accused the group of harboring bin Laden.
After the Kabul strike, the United States also accused the Taliban of violating the Doha agreement, under which the Taliban was forced to cut ties with foreign militants, including al-Qaeda.
“By welcoming and harboring the leader of Al-Qaeda in Kabul, the Taliban have seriously violated the Doha agreement and have repeated to the world that they will not allow Afghan territory to be used by terrorists to threaten security. other countries,” the US secretary said. of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
The drone strike is the first known US intervention in Afghanistan since its military withdrawal and could damage already strained relations with the ruling Taliban.
“This is a major blow to the Taliban regime following the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and will have serious implications for future relations between the Taliban and the United States,” Naseer told Arab News. Ahmad Nawidy, professor of political science at Salam University in Kabul.
“The recent attack means the United States still has intelligence and even a military presence in Afghanistan, and can target anyone in the country.”
Obaidullah Baheer, a lecturer in transitional justice at the American University of Afghanistan, said with the Doha deal “loosely worded”, there was room for operations like the Kabul drone attack , but that this decision was still an “attack on the sovereignty of the country”.
He said: “The violation of sovereignty is reprehensible and unacceptable under any circumstances.”