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Exclusive: Afghanistan Taliban commander says his group rejects Democratic system, pushing for Islamic State

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US Taliban meetings in Doha

This story originally posted on The Dark Wire: An Investigation Foundation

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: As uncertainty grows over whether the U.S. and Afghanistan’s militant Taliban could finalize a peace deal amid ongoing talks – as well as the anticipation of a new U.S. administration – a top commander in the group told The Dark Wire: An Investigation Foundation, they remain opposed to the continuation of the democratic government system established in the country after the U.S. led military campaign ousted them from power in 2001.

“The Taliban has categorically rejected to accept any condition that the next government after intra-Afghan agreement would form through an election process,” a senior Taliban commander told the Dark Wire, on condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to speak with the media. 

“Taliban (leaders) want a strong, ‘Islamic system’ of governance in the country which could bring real reforms in all sectors including defense, health, education and financial sector of the country,” the Taliban commander added.

For more than 10 years while the militant group and the U.S. officials have negotiated for a peace deal the Taliban has remained focused on the release of prisoners, as well as the withdrawal of all U.S. forces. It has also demanded to be a substantial member in any future Afghan Islamic government system. And that’s the crux and a major issue because the Afghan government has been insistent that any deal must support the nation’s constitution and civil liberties.

The senior Taliban commander did not go into any details about earlier demands that the Afghanistan government dismantle the current Afghan National Army. The commander said that for reparation “he believes the Islamic system in Afghanistan is the only way to bring peace and end the conflict in the region.”

As for tensions in the region, they remain high. Afghan security forces killed roughly 51 Taliban fighters in the southern province of Kandahar this week, in response to ongoing attacks from the militant group. The fighting has been ongoing while both sides pursue peace talks in Qatar.

The Afghan ministry of defense said the strikes against Taliban positions in five districts on Saturday night, a mixture of ground and air assaults that also destroyed four Taliban ammunition depots, were in response to insurgent attacks.

The U.S. signed its first major agreement with the Taliban on Feb. 29. The Trump administration had been working intently since he entered office to end the 19 year war that has lead to the death of thousands of U.S. troops and wounded tens of thousands more. That deal led to the decision to drawdown U.S. troops to 2,500 by Jan.15.

The region, however, is still teeming with militants connected to Islamic State, al Qaeda and other various terrorist organizations. It is not certain if the incoming Joe Biden administration will change the trajectory of the Trump administration’s peace agreements or if it will also keep on target with the drawdown of U.S. forces.

However, Afghan government officials defend the current democratic system, saying that it does not conflict with Islamic teachings. 

Afghanistan’s history with Democracy has been short. In 2004, Hamid Karzai was the first elected democratic president of Afghanistan. At the time, the United States was at the early stages of responding militarily to the attacks launched by al Qaeda, on September 11, 2001. The U.S. targeted the Taliban government because it harbored and supported al Qaeda militants and their training camps in the region.

According to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, during the past 18 years, there have been 2,400 U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan. Moreover, Congress has appropriated approximately $141 billion taxpayer dollars for reconstruction and to support security forces in the region.

Despite spending billions of dollars to build a democratic system in the war-torn country, Taliban anti-democracy views have worried many politicians and Afghan people who want a democratic system in Afghanistan. 

“I am really worried when watching this news that the Taliban will end democracy in our country if they reach on any agreement with the government,” Ahmadullah Afkari, a student in American University in Kabul said. 

“We want peace in our country and strongly support the ongoing peace efforts but I believe that if we want to bring lasting peace and prosperity then we need a strong democracy,” he added.

On Thursday (December 10) Taliban Political Deputy head Mullah Baradar Akhund while addressing a conference, organized by Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies, said Taliban would not be pursuing monopoly over power following the independence of Afghanistan, rather it seeks an inclusive Islamic government with all Afghans in their homeland.

“The Afghan nation has presented every type of human and material sacrifices for the past four decades for the sovereignty of our homeland and our religious and Afghan values along with the establishment of an Islamic system, and it continues to strive for this exact goal,” Baradar said. 

However, earlier in September, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo while speaking at intra-Afghan negotiation opening ceremony in Doha, warned that “as you make your decisions you should keep in mind that your choices and conduct will affect both the size and scope of United States future assistance”.

“The United States doesn’t seek to impose its system on others.  We believe firmly that protecting the rights of all Afghans is indeed the best way for you to break the cycle of violence,” Pompeo said. 

Sara A. Carter, founder of The Dark Wire, contributed to this report.

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Shanghai: China’s Potemkin Village

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Screen Shot 2021 01 08 at 11.55.24 AM

Following a recent outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has imposed a month-long draconian lockdown on the residents of Shanghai. The CCP has used the outbreak to persecute its own citizens, including through forced evictions and quarantines, and placing alarms on doors to prevent COVID-19 people from leaving their homes. The harsh measures have resulted in food and healthcare shortages and separation of families.

But of course, we wouldn’t know that by reading the CCP-run press readily available in the United States. Instead of presenting the facts, the CCP engages in a comprehensive propaganda campaign that props up Shanghai as a Chinese Potemkin village. The CCP media asserts that China’s actions in Shanghai are benevolent and wise, while Western criticism is a product of malice. Chinese state-run media also insists that the Shanghai lockdown promotes economic stability in China and the world.

Claim 1: China Has the Best Policy for Combating COVID-19

The CCP media portray the Shanghai lockdown as the best and ideal policy. As cited by a XinhuaNet editorial, “China’s dynamic zero-COVID approach” is “the best option to save lives,” according to a “Rwandan researcher and publisher,” “…a miracle for us to learn,” according to a Kenyan scholar, and “a very ideal response,” according to Ethiopia’s National COVID-19 Response Task Force Coordinator. According to CCP media, Chinese citizens have greeted the Shanghai lockdown warmly, even with “[a] mixed sense of intensity, unity and hopefulness,” according to China Daily.

Claim 2: The West Hypocritically Defames China

The CCP press also accuses the West of lying about the Shanghai lockdown, and using COVID policies for nefarious ends. According to XinhuaNet, “Shanghai…has never imposed what Western media described as a ‘lockdown.’” Other CCP editorials actually accuse the West of malice. One Global Times editorial claims that the lockdown “has been deliberately exaggerated by the West.” Another Global Times editorial asserts that the Western approach of “coexisting with the virus” amounts to a way “…to drive out a large number of the vulnerable people with low immunity,” and a form of “cruel social Darwinism.”

Claim 3: China’s COVID Policies Result in an Economic Windfall to China and the World

The CCP also portrays the lockdown as necessary to achieve great economic growth in China and beyond. One Global Times editorial, while conceding that the lockdown amounted to a “sealing-off,” it is “a temporary measure to better resume work and production and to make the economy and society function more effectively. Its effectiveness has been proven.” According to another Global Times editorial, China’s policy is “widely considered to be the best strategy…to both contain the epidemic and ensure stable economic development.”

In an Orwellian fashion, Chinese press claims that China is solving, not causing, the world’s economic problems. According to XinhuaNet, “China has played a decisive role in stabilizing the global economy and resuming the supply chain disrupted by COVID-19.” Citing a Bloomberg article, the same XinhuaNet editorial claims that China “has prevented a huge number of deaths at home and ensured that everything from iPhones and Teslas to fertilizer and car parts continues to flow to the rest of the world.” Chinese citizens, of course, are collateral damage: Ji Qiwei, vice-general manager of SAIC Motor Passenger Vehicle, stated that “The domestic market may be impacted a little by the COVID-19 outbreak this year, but our export market will continue to see strong growth,” according to China Daily.

While the world continues to suffer economic and human damage as a result of COVID-19, China continues to revise history regarding its role. Through its propaganda in its English publications of Xinhua, China Daily, and Global Times, China seeks to portray itself as a benevolent force in the fight against the virus.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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