US has conceded too much to the Taliban. Amrullah Saleh says the American mission which began 20 years ago is not yet accomplished. Last year President Donald Trump made a peace deal with the Taliban and agreed to drastically reduce US troops.
Mr. Saleh says the pull-out risks more violence in an unstable country. The Afghan government has been battling the Taliban, a hard-line Islamic movement, as the group tries to tighten its grip on parts of the country. The current US presence in Afghanistan dates to 2001 when soldiers invaded to remove the Taliban from power, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
But the movement regrouped and by 2018 was active in more than two-thirds of Afghanistan, threatening the elected government. Thousands have been killed, including 2,400 US soldiers. Mr. Trump has been clear that he is determined to withdraw all US troops from the country. Vice-President Saleh told the sources that the US talks with the Taliban were not a mistake in themselves, but that Mr. Trump’s administration made an error in giving the group’s a “massive concession”.
The deal signed in February 2020 said that the US and its Nato allies will withdraw all troops in 14 months if the Taliban upholds its promise to stop attacks. The Taliban also promised not to allow al-Qaeda or other militants to operate in areas it controls. As a condition of starting negotiations with the Afghan government, the Taliban demanded that 5,000 of their men be released from Afghan prisons. The final 400 prisoners were set free in August last year.
Following the historic agreement, the attack by Taliban insurgents on international forces stopped, but fighting with Afghan security forces continued.
Mr. Saleh said that the group had not separated itself from the terror group al-Qaeda whose leaders are “embedded” inside the Taliban. In October senior UN officials agreed with the assessment that al-Qaeda and the Taliban remain close allies. He also added, Afghanistan is not begging US soldiers to stay and the government accepts America’s decision:
“We remain grateful for their assistance. But the fate of my country does not lie; with the last US military helicopter.” At the peak of the war, there were 88,000 US troops in Afghanistan. After the completion of the latest withdrawal on Friday, that number will be down to about 2,500.
The Taliban has told the sources if all foreign troops; do not withdraw by spring, as agreed by the Trump administration, they will resume attacks on international forces. The Afghan government has been in talks with the Taliban, but it’s unclear; if and when they will sign a peace deal.
Many fear that if foreign militaries withdraw before a lasting agreement is reached; the Taliban might be back in power.
Mr. Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, takes office on 20 January and one of his tasks will be to decide what happens to the final American soldiers reaming in Afghanistan.