Taliban urge US to exit Afghanistan or face Soviet-style defeat

The Taliban have not formally responded to the news that Trump had decided to withdraw roughly half of the 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan. (File/AFP)
Updated 27 December 2018
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Taliban urge US to exit Afghanistan or face Soviet-style defeat

  • The Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989, ending a decade-long occupation and precipitating a bloody civil war and the emergence of the Taliban
  • The Taliban have not formally responded to the news that Trump had decided to withdraw roughly half of the 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan

KABUL: The Taliban warned the United States Thursday it would face the same fate as the Soviet Union in the 1980s if it did not leave Afghanistan, as Washington considers slashing troop numbers.
In a taunting message sent on the 39th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of the war-torn country, the Taliban said US forces faced “humiliation” and could “learn a great deal” from the experience of their Cold War foe.
The Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989, ending a decade-long occupation and precipitating a bloody civil war and the emergence of the Taliban.
“Take heed from the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan and abandon thoughts of testing the mettle of the already proven Afghans,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement in English, Dari and Pashto.
Mujahid said any future relations between the Taliban and the United States should be based on “sound diplomatic and economic principles” rather than conflict.
The Taliban have not formally responded to the news that Trump had decided to withdraw roughly half of the 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan.
But a senior commander told AFP that the group was “more than happy.” The Taliban have long insisted on the withdrawal of foreign troops as a condition for engaging in peace talks.
The White House has so far not confirmed the widely-publicized move that left foreign diplomats and Afghan officials in Kabul stunned and dismayed.
It came last week as US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met with the Taliban in Abu Dhabi, part of efforts to bring the militants to the negotiating table with Kabul.
That was the latest in a series of meetings between US officials and representatives of the Talian that began in the summer.
There are fears Trump’s decision could undermine Khalilzad’s negotiating position, embolden the Taliban, and further erode morale among Afghan forces, which are suffering record losses.


Australia asks for answers on dissident missing in China

Updated 48 min 5 sec ago
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Australia asks for answers on dissident missing in China

  • Yang Hengjun went missing shortly after he returned to the southern city of Guangzhou last week
  • His disappearance prompted fears that he may be the latest victim of an increasingly broad dragnet by Chinese security services

SYDNEY: Australia is investigating reports a Chinese-Australian dissident is missing and may have been detained in his native country, officials said Wednesday.
Yang Hengjun — a novelist, former Chinese diplomat and democracy activist — went missing shortly after he returned to the southern city of Guangzhou last week, friends said.
When asked about Yang’s case, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was “seeking information about an Australian citizen who has been reported missing in China.”
“Owing to our privacy obligations we will not provide further comment,” a spokesman told AFP.
The Australian government is believed to be in contact with Yang’s friends and family, as well as Chinese authorities.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Yang had returned to China with his wife and son on January 18, but never made a planned internal flight to Shanghai.
His disappearance prompted fears that he may be the latest victim of an increasingly broad dragnet by Chinese security services.
Australia recently expressed concern about China’s detention of two Canadians in apparent retaliation for the arrest in Canada of a senior Huawei executive.
Yang’s friend and journalist John Garnaut described him as “brilliant” and “a courageous and committed democrat.”
“This will reverberate globally if authorities do not quickly find an off-ramp,” he warned.
Yang had worked in the ministry of foreign affairs in Hainan province, but later left for Hong Kong in 1992 and the US in 1997 where he worked for the Atlantic Council think tank.
He later took up Australian citizenship — although Beijing does not recognize dual nationality — and wrote a series of spy novels and a popular Chinese-language blog.
Once described as China’s “most influential political blogger,” Yang went missing once before in 2011, describing his disappearance as a “misunderstanding” when he resurfaced days later.