Taliban spokesman and Deputy Minister of Information and Culture, Zabihullah Mujahid, pointed on Wednesday that the United States is violating Afghanistan’s airspace by its drones and stressed that these violations must be corrected and prevented, Tolo News reports.
Mujahid claims that the US use of drones that occupies ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s sacred airspace’ goes not only against international law but also against its obligations to Qatar.
He underlined that Afghanistan has called on all countries, especially the US, to abide by international laws and to avoid violating its airspace in light of mutual commitments warning that any illegal drone operations will be followed by negative consequences
The Taliban issued statement later trumpeted in the Iranian media reiterated Washington’s commitments under the February 2020 Doha Peace Accords and Taliban commitment to the country’s territorial integrity, including its airspace.
Mujahid statement came in the wake of US officials’ remarks stressing that the US does not need to cooperate with the Taliban on over the horizon counterterrorism efforts since they have no agreement with the Taliban on not using Afghanistan’s airspace in that fight.
US Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby pointed on Saturday that the US will retain all necessary authorities to execute over the horizon counterterrorism ops without speaking to specific rules of engagement surrounding airstrikes.
Kirby also noted they do not expect Taliban’s clearance for any future over the horizon counterterrorism strikes and that currently there’s no requirement to clear airspace with the Taliban.
Drone ops were the backbone of the US war against the Taliban over Afghanistan for two decades, but it is not clear what ramifications would be if the Taliban begin to see future US drone operations as a provocation.
Taliban might also use the fact that other countries, including Russia, Pakistan, Iran and China, would like to see limited use of the US drones in the region, pushing them to increase the pressure on the US that used in the past air bases in Qatar, the UAE and other Gulf areas for launching ops in Afghanistan’s airspace.