Afghan Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid: 'We Want To See Turkey As Turkey, Not As A Part Of NATO'

July 27, 2021

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

As the Afghan Taliban's jihadi fighters take control of scores of districts in different regions of Afghanistan, their spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has given several interviews in recent weeks.[1] He recently gave an interview to the Turkish daily Istiklal,[2] excerpts from which were published by Roznama Ummat, the pro-Taliban Urdu-language newspaper in Pakistan. The interview was given in the context of a controversy arising after the U.S. and Turkey held consultations to reach an agreement that Turkish troops should guard the Hamid Karzai international airport in Kabul.

Zabihullah Mujahid stated: "Neither the Islamic Emirate nor the Afghan people have any differences with Turkey or Turkish people. We have religious, communitarian, historical, and cultural alliance with the Turkish people. Both peoples like each other very much. We want Turkey, which had come to Afghanistan 20 years ago under the umbrella of NATO, to return along with NATO. When we need Turkey, then we will directly talk with Turkey and the Turkish people. We want Turkey as Turkey; we do not want to see Turkey as part of NATO. According to the Doha agreement, which we have signed with America, and which Turkey has accepted, now what is needed is that all foreign forces, whether or not they are a member of NATO, should forsake the affairs of Afghanistan."[3]

Asked why the Taliban delegation did not visit Turkey despite undertaking such visits to several countries in recent weeks, the Taliban spokesman said: "We have met Turkish officials in the past months. We also agreed to hold joint talks. However, the Turkish side has stopped these talks unilaterally. In fact, even now Turkey behaves with us as it behaves with the opposition groups in Syria. Many people [officials] of the West and neighboring countries with whom we met, they welcomed us as officials of the state [of Afghanistan], they implement the official protocol for us.

"Unfortunately, we are forced to say that we are troubled by this discriminatory behaviour of Turkey [for not giving us official protocol]. Whenever there is a need for Turkey, we will talk directly with Turkey and Turkish people. We want to see Turkey as Turkey, not as a part of NATO. Turkey is treating us like it treats the Syrian opposition. Whereas, at the least we want a relationship like [that of Turkey's relationship with] Libya. We want to meet with President Tayyip Erdoğan. Erdoğan is a very distinguished leader for us and for the world of Islam. We want to share the realities of Afghanistan with him."[4]


[1] In a recent interview with the Afghan news network TOLOnews, the Taliban spokesman was asked if women can sing. Zabihullah Mujahid replied: "No, she cannot [sing]. In Islam, she cannot. This is not our view; this is Islam's view." He was also asked if a woman can become the president of Afghanistan. He stated: "No, no, she cannot become president [of a country]. Islamic jurisprudence does not allow it." See MEMRI Special Dispatches Series No. 9449, Afghan Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid Declares That Women Are Not Permitted To Sing Or Become President Of Afghanistan, Refuses To Denounce Al-Qaeda: 'The Relation Between Muslims In The World Is In Faith; [To Cut Ties With Al-Qaeda] Is Not Logical At All', July 19, 2021.

[2], July 14, 2021.

[3] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), July 16, 2021.

[4] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), July 16, 2021.

The Cyber & Jihad Lab

The Cyber & Jihad Lab monitors, tracks, translates, researches, and analyzes cyber jihad originating from the Middle East, Iran, South Asia, and North and West Africa. It innovates and experiments with possible solutions for stopping cyber jihad, advancing legislation and initiatives federally – including with Capitol Hill and attorneys-general – and on the state level, to draft and enforce measures that will serve as precedents for further action. It works with leaders in business, law enforcement, academia, and families of terror victims to craft and support efforts and solutions to combat cyber jihad, and recruits, and works with technology industry leaders to craft and support efforts and solutions.

Read More