Taliban Condemns US Drone Flights Over Afghan Airspace, Warns Of “Consequences”
The Taliban is condemning the United States for violating Afghanistan’s airspace with drones, calling the flights a severe violation of prior US-Taliban peace agreements reached in Doha, warning of “consequences” should they continue. The statements come a week after the Pentagon said it won’t be asking “permission” to strike terrorists operating inside the country.
“The US has violated all international rights and laws as well as its commitments made to the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, with the operation of these drones in Afghanistan,” the Taliban announced Wednesday. “We call on all countries, especially United States, to treat Afghanistan in light of international rights, laws and commitments… in order to prevent any negative consequences,” it added.
But in terms of imposing any significant “consequences” – the reality remains that the Taliban doesn’t have much in the way of aerial capabilities to take out US drones, other than helicopters and small aircraft it has seized following the rapid American troop exit over the summer, or perhaps very limited surface-to-air capabilities.
The Biden administration has continually touted its “over the horizon” capabilities, while Pentagon spokesman John Kirby has followed by confirming there is “currently no requirement to clear airspace with the Taliban.” This after questions over the degree to which the US would cooperate with the Taliban in fighting ISIS-K have persisted.
According to Al Jazeera, the US is likely to see its ability to fly drones over Afghanistan despite the protests from Kabul justified based on its counterterror mission:
…the US has argued that such actions are justified under international law when a government is “unable or unwilling” to address a threat from groups operating in its territory.
So far it looks like regional countries surrounding Afghanistan have been largely unwilling to host US aircraft and spy planes. This means such aircraft have to operate from bases or carriers all the way over in the Gulf region.
Interestingly, on Tuesday in Senate testimony which focused on the Afghan pullout debacle, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley maintained that the US had “adhered to every condition” of the US-Taliban withdrawal agreement. However, he didn’t specifically address the question of drone flights and how he interprets such operations.
Thu, 09/30/2021 – 18:40