Don’t give up peace for Afghanistan

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A man walks under the Afghan national flag in the early morning in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 2, 2019.REUTERS / Mohammad Ismail

October 7th by US President Donald J. Trump tweet The statement that all US troops will return from Afghanistan by Christmas jeopardizes the chances of success of the first serious peace negotiations between Afghanistan and Afghanistan in forty years, which are now taking place in Doha, Qatar.

If this is confirmed, an early US withdrawal would tip the balance for the Taliban, who are still waging war across Afghanistan. It would undermine our Afghan partners and have a terrible impact on Afghan women.

US national security would be undermined and the US would have less leverage to ensure that the Taliban honor their commitments – particularly their pledges to prevent al-Qaeda and other international terrorists from using Afghanistan to attack the United States.

The surprise The president’s tweet undermines the United States’ credibility with partners and allies. It appears to have been made without prior consultation with allies fighting us, suggesting that the United States would abandon foreign agreements for short-term domestic calculations. It would seriously harm the international support that the United States has worked so hard to build a sustainable Afghan peace process.

In accordance with the South Asia strategy announced by President Trump himself in August 2017, the US agreement with the Taliban is said to be subject to conditions. In particular, through repeated public statements by foreign ministers, the defense minister and the special envoy Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the US government has underlined that we will not withdraw from Afghanistan until the Taliban have shown their goodwill by complying with the terms of the agreement a way that protects US and Allied security stocks in Afghanistan. Government officials have admitted in testimony before Congress that the Taliban are not there yet fully compatible with its anti-terrorism obligations. Notably, however, the president’s tweet appears to have led the United States to withdraw troops without achieving their stated goals and well ahead of the final May 2021 deadline.

An accelerated withdrawal effectively means giving up the fruits of two years of determined US diplomacy with the Taliban, Afghan partners in Kabul, our allies, and regional and international partners in order to bring the Afghan parties to the negotiating table. US diplomatic efforts have orchestrated an opening that many believed was very unlikely and that will require a great deal of nursing and care as the parties attempt to bridge major differences.

Important in this context are the words of the Pakistani Prime Minister, whose country the Taliban have long protected. On a September 26th Washington Post In a comment, he said: “Anyone who has invested in the Afghan peace process should resist the temptation to set unrealistic timetables. A hasty international withdrawal from Afghanistan would be unwise. “

Despite President Trump’s continued interest in a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan, many members of the U.S. administration have worked to persuade him to stay on course and ensure a lasting peace. Nevertheless, the effect of this surprise tweet in Afghanistan should not be doubted. As an Afghan official wrote to one of us privately, “People were talking about waking up to a tweet like this … How serious is that? Is it a choice or not? How was the decision made? Was there any advice? It undermines conditionality and will have an impact on the dynamics in Doha … “

Many in the United States and around the world have similar questions. It is highly irresponsible to accelerate the withdrawal while the Afghan negotiations in Doha are still grappling with initial problems and have not yet come to the actual content of the negotiations. After decades of fighting, it is not realistic to believe that these problems will be resolved quickly or without the ability of the United States and other partners to influence Afghanistan.

A key element of the US-Taliban agreement is a commitment to reduce violence in order to create favorable conditions for the ongoing peace talks. Unfortunately, the Taliban have so far ignored this obligation and have even increased the pace and intensity of their military operations against the Afghan security forces in recent months. There is currently no evidence that the Taliban are seriously interested in a ceasefire. If the United States accelerates its withdrawal, the Taliban will be even more tempted to simply wait by holding off talks until the United States completes its withdrawal. Following the withdrawal of the United States and its allies, the Taliban will likely intensify its military campaign and possibly seek a military victory.

In addition to undermining US security, the women of Afghanistan and the millions of younger Afghans who have grown up in the last 19 years will pay the greatest price for an early US withdrawal and an effective breakdown of the nascent peace process. It is they who will suffer terribly from a Taliban victory.

Recall that the Taliban are effective fighters, but they are not popular in Afghanistan as they are every year survey of the Afghan people. What is popular is achieving peace.

The United States has done itself a great service in bringing the Afghan parties to the negotiating table. Now the United States must support this peace process, also by maintaining an effective presence in Afghanistan, as the Afghan parties are working on very difficult questions about the future structures, rules and processes of an Afghan government.

We all agree that US forces should be incapacitated as soon as possible. But already Afghan Government forces are at the forefront of the fighting. The United States should not undermine the vital advancement that the combination of US diplomacy and military steadfastness, working with allies and friends, has made to bring Afghans to the negotiating table and enable the Taliban to be a more responsible actor against the To become terrorism.

We demand that US troops not be withdrawn by Christmas or that conditions on the ground ensure that US security goals in Afghanistan are guaranteed through political settlement and lasting peace – a peace that is the sacrifice of the brave men and women of America honors.

Ambassador James Cunningham was US Deputy Ambassador to Afghanistan in 2011 and US Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2012 to 2014. He is also a non-resident Senior Fellow of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.

Ambassador John Negroponte was US Deputy Secretary of State from 2007 to 2009 and Director of National Intelligence from 2005 to 2007.

Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann was US Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007.

Ambassador Hugo Llorens was Deputy Head of Mission in Afghanistan from 2012 to 2013 and General Manager from 2016 to 2017.

ambassador Richard Olson was US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan (2015-2016) and previously worked at the US Embassy in Afghanistan (2011-2012) and US Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.

Ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne was US Deputy Ambassador to Afghanistan and Coordinating Director for Development from 2009 to 2011. He is also a non-resident Senior Fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Global Business and Economics Program.

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