September 8, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10196

Afghan Taliban Spokesman Naeem Wardak's Statement 'What Problem Do We Have With Israel?' Is Consistent With Taliban Position, But Pressure From Hamas Prevailed

September 8, 2022
Special Dispatch No. 10196

In recent months, the manoeuvres of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (i.e., the Afghan Taliban) to get its jihadi government in Kabul recognized by the UN and the Western nations have attracted international attention. Some countries, such as Pakistan and Qatar, have almost recognized the Taliban government, but its decision to ban girls' education beyond the sixth grade has set back its attempts at diplomatic recognition.

In an interview broadcast by Al-Jazeera TV on August 31, 2022, Dr. M. Naeem Wardak, the spokesman of the Islamic Emirate's Political Office in Doha, indicated that the Afghan Taliban are ready for diplomatic relations with Israel, but amid subsequent pressure from jihadi and Islamist groups, such as Hamas, he has sought to clarify and dilute his statement.[1]

Dr. Naeem Wardak in Al-Jazeera interview

Wardak's Interview: 'What Problem Do We Have With Israel?'

In the interview, Naeem Wardak was arguing that the ruling Taliban jihadi organization has no problem with resolving issues with any country through dialogue and discussion. The interviewer asked, "Dialogue with everybody with no exceptions? Even with Israel?" The Afghan Taliban spokesman responded: "What problem do we have with Israel? Next thing someone will ask is whether we are willing to [have a dialogue] with Mars." The interviewer reiterated: "Israel is a country. Some say that the path to America's heart passes through Israel." Naeem Wardak kept to his line of argument: "If you have a problem with anyone, you can resolve it. We want to resolve problems that others have with us. With whom do we have a problem [there]?"

"So you do not have a problem with Israel now," the interviewer persisted. "I do not know..." the Taliban spokesman said and began moving away from the question, saying: "This is the media for you... You bring stuff from the end of the world and throw it into the mix of our reality here. This is very strange."

Wardak's Clarification: 'What Israel Is Doing In Palestine Is A Great And Clear Cruelty, And We Are Never With The Oppressor'

Soon after the interview aired, Naeem Wardak seems to have come under pressure from Islamist leaders worldwide. On September 2, two days after the interview, Naeem Wardak published three tweets on his official Twitter handle clarifying his position. In the first tweet, he said: "1. Clarification – The other night, I had an interview with Al-Jazeera on Afghanistan's problems with the world. Our policy is that anyone who has problems with us will be resolved through negotiations. The journalist jumped to [the issue of the recognition of] Israel. I said what link it has with Afghanistan. And this is the reality."[2]

Naeem Wardak's clarifications on Twitter

In the second tweet, Naeem Wardak observed: "2. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan's stance on Bait-ul-Muqaddas is quite clear and we have expressed it from time to time. Bait-ul-Muqaddas is the first Qibla of Muslims and the common and sacred value [asset] of the entire Muslim Ummah. What Israel is doing in Palestine is a great and clear cruelty, and we are never with the oppressor."[3]

In the third tweet, the Taliban spokesman added: "3. The issue of formal recognition of Israel or establishment of relations with her is neither relevant nor it is the policy of the Islamic Emirate. The policy of the Islamic Emirate moves forward in the light of Islamic shari'a and their national interests."[4] Mohammed Jalal, a known Afghan Taliban writer who translated some of Nadeem Wardak's tweets on the subject, seems to have deleted his Twitter account.[5]

Jihadi and Islamic organizations use the Arabic words "Bait-ul-Muqaddas [Sacred Home]" interchangeably for the city of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque, while some Islamic religious organizations used it in a broader sense to mean all Palestinian lands, potentially including Israel. It appears that Wardak used the term to mean only the Al-Aqsa mosque and the city of Jerusalem. This is consistent with the Afghan Taliban's official statements in recent decades which have been limited to criticizing Israel on the issue of conflicts around Al-Aqsa.[6]

Naeem Wardak's clarifications on Twitter

Wardak's Meeting With Hamas In Doha

Although the Afghan Taliban are a jihadi organization, they have avoided speaking about major Muslim issues such as the Kashmir jihad, the Chinese persecution of Uyghur Muslims, issues faced by Palestinians, and the Baluchi Muslims' struggles against the Pakistani government.

Days after his interview, senior Hamas leaders Ibrahim Salah and Tahir Al-Nunu visited the Islamic Emirate's Political Office in Doha and were received by Naeem Wardak. Hamas has said the purpose of the visit was to convey condolences for the Taliban scholar Mawlawi Mujibur Rahman Ansari, who was killed in a bombing in Herat city on September 2, and for the Afghans who died in floods. It does not appear that Hamas gave any condolences publicly for the victims of floods in Afghanistan this year, which occurred once in May, three times in July, and twice in August.[7]

The Hamas delegation meets with Naeem Wardak in Doha

During the meeting in Doha, Hamas leaders praised the "truly Islamic position" adopted by Naeem Wardak in his clarifications on Twitter, and conveyed the support of Hamas and the Palestinian people for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.[8] Hamas has also repeatedly praised the Afghan Taliban for "expelling the occupiers" by means of their "jihad."[9]


[2], September 2, 2022.

[3], September 2, 2022.

[4], September 2, 2022.

[5], accessed September 8, 2022.

[7], accessed September 8, 2022. Hamas seems to have offered condolences on its website, to Afghan flood victims only after Nadeem Wardak’s interview was telecast on Al-Jazeera.   

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