President Trump breaks peace negotiations with Afghan taleb movement
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Initiated early this year, peace negotiations between the United States and the Afghan Taleb movement were about to be completed. In a nutshell, it was a question of significantly reducing, in under 135 days, the US military presence in Afghanistan, in exchange for the guarantee that the Taliban would not let this country become a safe haven for terrorist groups, including of course al-Qaeda.
This agreement was then to be followed by intra-Afghan negotiations between the government and the insurgents. However, in Kabul, there was “concern” about the direction taken by discussions between US diplomats and Taleb emissaries.
“We are concerned and we are asking for clarification on this document in order to analyze precisely the risks and consequences, and to thwart any danger it may cause,” said Sediq Sediqqi, the spokesman of the Afghan president, Ashraf. Ghani.
It is the same thing in the United States, where former officials warned against too hasty military disengagement. “A major withdrawal of US forces should follow and not precede a real peace agreement,” they said, in a column published on September 4.
At the same time, while an agreement was in reach, the Afghan Taliban launched several large-scale operations to try to break out of several provincial capitals. And, on September 5, they claimed a car bomb attack that killed 12 people in Kabul, including the Romanian capooral Ciprian-Ştefan Polschi and the American sergeant, Elis Barreto Ortiz.
On the evening of September 7, US President Donald Trump, who had just announced that he would receive Taliban officials and Afghan officials in Camp David, made an unexpected flip-flop, announcing via Twitter his decision to break off negotiations:
….an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position? They didn’t, they….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 7 September 2019
As for the reception at Camp David, Mr. Trump said the Taliban envoys “were on their way to the United States tonight.” But, he added, “I immediately canceled the meeting.”
This turn of events is all the more surprising since it was expected of the White House leader to accelerate the US military disengagement from Afghanistan. And peace negotiations with the Afghan taleb movement were one of the steps to achieve this. “We do not have a war there, we’re just policemen,” Trump said recently.
In recent months, and while the talks were underway, the Taliban have stepped up their operations in the field. “Peace efforts have intensified in recent weeks, as has the conflict on the ground,” said Tadamichi Yamamamoto, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
Moreover, in the last fortnight, four American soldiers have been killed in attacks in Afghanistan. How could the September 5 attack have changed Mr. Trump’s mind? Perhaps he had doubts about the Taliban’s willingness to honor their commitments. Knowing that, according to several reports [both of the United Nations and the Pentagon], al-Qaeda is only getting stronger in the territories passed under the control of the Taleb movement, to which the jihadist organization has pledged allegiance.