Taliban warns neighboring countries to reject US military bases

Taliban warns neighboring countries to reject US military bases
© Getty

The Taliban on Wednesday warned countries neighboring Afghanistan against hosting U.S. forces as the Pentagon looks for new locations to set up operations after a withdrawal from the nation.

The U.S. is anticipated to fully withdraw its forces later this year, but observers have speculated that the military will set up shop elsewhere in the Middle East or South Asia to maintain a presence in the region. The Taliban, in a statement, issued a clear warning that “misfortunes and difficulties” could befall countries that decide to host U.S. troops.

“Foreign forces are the root cause of insecurity and war in the region and the greatest tragedy is that everyone has witnessed in the last twenty years, especially our afflicted people who have suffered and continue to suffer more than anyone else. We urge neighboring countries not to allow and grant anyone such a concession,” the group said in a statement.

ADVERTISEMENT

“As we have repeatedly assured others that our soil will not be used against the security of others, we are similarly urging others not to use their soil and airspace against our country. If such a step is taken, then the responsibility for all the misfortunes and difficulties lies upon those who commit such mistakes,” it concluded.

Lawmakers and experts have said a U.S. presence in the region following a withdrawal from Afghanistan is necessary so that troops can reestablish themselves in the country if it backslides into violence.

Possible locations for U.S. forces include Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, though no arrangements have been announced. Some observers have floated Pakistan as a potential landing spot for troops, but the country’s ties to the Taliban and contentious relationship with the U.S. could scrap such a plan.

A spokesperson for Pakistan's foreign office told Reuters on Monday that any talk over U.S. use of bases in Pakistan “was baseless and irresponsible.”

Concerns over a rise in violence in Afghanistan have bubbled up amid a spike in clashes between the Afghan military and the Taliban since President BidenJoe BidenRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Iowa governor suggests immigrants partially to blame for rising COVID-19 cases Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on MORE made his withdrawal announcement. The country has also been rocked by a spate of bombings, including most recently at a girls school near Kabul that killed dozens of people.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Pentagon later on Wednesday would not confirm the Taliban's messaging.

"I’ve seen reports of that, I can’t confirm that that’s in fact what the message that they’re sending," press secretary John Kirby told reporters.

He added that the United States continues to "support diplomatic efforts to explore opportunities in the region that would allow us to improve our over the horizon counterterrorism capability."
"We’re supportive of that, participating in that but I don’t have any final decisions or resolution on any of that with any particular neighboring country to speak to you today," Kirby said.

Ellen Mitchell contributed to this report that was updated at 4:43 p.m.