U.S. President Donald Trump cancelled peace negotiations with the Taliban last Sunday after the insurgent group claimed responsibility for an attack in Kabul that claimed the life of a U.S. soldier.
In a tweet, Mr. Trump shared that he had planned to separately meet with Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at Camp David. “[I]n order to build false leverage, they admitted to 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…” he said. Mr. Trump was referring to an attack in Kabul that also claimed the lives of a Romanian soldier and 10 Afghan civilians.
The U.S. President’s decision brought to a halt a dialogue process led by U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad that had been taking place for 10 months with several rounds of meeting between the U.S. and the Taliban. The most recent of these seemed to have concluded in a deal that could have potentially seen an end to the U.S.’s 18-year-long conflict in the country.
The cancellation of talks was welcomed by many Afghans who had witnessed increasing violence and civilian casualties even during the duration of the process.
“I think the U.S. should have called off negotiations a long time ago, back when Khalilzad’s efforts did not change the Taliban’s position,” Samira Hamidi, Afghan activist and regional campaigner with Amnesty International told this writer. “Even after nine rounds of negotiations, the U.S. Special Envoy had failed to address issues of cessation of hostilities and ceasefire with the Taliban. In fact the group not only used violence as leverage but also to force the U.S. to pressure the Afghan government to accept proposals such as cancellation of elections,” she reasoned, adding that the increased Taliban attacks across the country and the resulting mass civilian casualties proved that the group was not serious about peace. “The U.S. also gave unnecessary legitimacy to the militant group, who believe they are close to a victory and [to] establishing an ‘Emirate state’ again. It is a worrying situation,” she said.
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