Ghani Fearful of U.S.-Taliban Agreement
Zalmay Khalilzad has delivered upon his promise to secure a quick political agreement with Taliban insurgents that will pave the way for thousands of U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan.
After marathon talks in Dona this week, which were facilitated and at times even moderated by Qatari and Pakistani agents, U.S. and Taliban representatives have agreed upon the following, according to one official privy to these talks:
A) U.S. will soon start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan
B) Taliban & U.S. forces will observe a tentative ceasefire
C) Taliban will observe a partial ceasefire with ANDSF in a handful of provinces
D) U.S. & allies will deliver aid to reintegrate Taliban fighters
This initial agreement, particularly the withdrawal of troops, was expected to be announced by President Trump at his State of the Union speech on January 29. The speech is postponed until the U.S. Federal Government is fully reopened.
Khalilzad’s agreement with Taliban, however, has irked the Afghan Government. President Ashraf Ghani is said to be particularly fearful of a precipitous U.S. withdrawal and the domino crumbling effects it could have on the Afghan Government.
Disappointed in Trump’s impatience for withdrawal, Mr. Ghani has approached the European Union to help safeguard the fragile political system in Afghanistan at the end of a potential U.S. disengagement. Ghani has repeatedly warned against any arrangements for an interim administration that will coalesce Taliban into a future Afghan polity.
Ironically, the man that appears helpful in executing the emerging U.S. arrangements in Afghanistan is a fierce Washington critic — Hamid Karzai. Mr. Karzai is believed to help generate Afghan political acceptance for the U.S.-Taliban arrangement particularly the part concerning military withdrawal.
The U.S. envoy, Khalilzad, will leave it for “Afghans” to iron out any future political agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan Government. Washington and allies will offer support, political and economic, to help Afghans find a common path to end the war in their country.