Friday, 20 September, 2019

'Astonishing': Taliban respond to Trump's peace talks withdrawal

Rocket blast at US Embassy in Kabul on 9/11 anniversary | The Fresno Bee Global community must address Pakistan terror sanctuaries: India
Deanna Wagner | 13 September, 2019, 06:27

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the bombing in an email statement. The only surprise was that things had come as far as a possible Camp David meeting being contemplated.

"They thought that they had to kill people to put themselves in a little better negotiating position", Trump told reporters, calling the attack "a big mistake".

Whatever the reasons, the cancellation of the Camp David summit and halting of the Afghan peace process is a big blow to the year-long peace negotiations between the U.S. and the Afghan Taliban.

He said his audience should, after watching montages of that awful day in 2001, ask themselves, "Should we have been in any peace negotiations with the Taliban?"

Over the weekend, the president canceled the secret meeting, which was set to host Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Taliban leaders. "We want to end the occupation of Afghanistan first", he said.

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Crawford: The Trump administration's approach to negotiations gets mixed reviews in my book. A USA -led invasion of Afghanistan shortly after the 2001 attack toppled the Taliban, who had harbored Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader and attacks mastermind. "There was no indication about Trump's decision and the U.S. side did not make any new demand during the final meetings", the Taliban spokesman said. "One was jihad and fighting, the other was talks and negotiations", he said. The United States and Afghan government have been steadily losing ground and controlling less of Afghanistan.

Shaheen said a ceasefire inside the country was never part of the negotiations but rather an intra-Afghan matter that would form part of future discussions with the country's government - but only after foreign forces withdraw. The negotiations called for the Pentagon to withdraw about 5,400 of the 14,000 USA troops deployed, and it is not clear whether Trump will still pursue that level without a deal with the Taliban.

If Pakistan feels the United States is going to precipitously withdraw troops during the next year, it may decide that it's more important than ever to support a proxy like the Taliban to protect Pakistan's perceived interests in Afghanistan, which would be to keep India's influence to a minimum.

Under the proposed US-Taliban deal, the US was to withdraw its roughly 14,000 military personnel in a phased manner, provided the insurgents publicly renounce al Qaeda, the terrorist group that carried out the September 11, 2001, attacks in NY and Washington. India's internal interests are also deeply interlinked with the situation in Afghanistan, with Pakistan's deep involvement in the so-called peace process.