While the prospect of resumed peace talks between the United States and the Taliban remains unclear, US President Donald Trump has once again lashed out at the Taliban for its involvement in a recent bombing in Kabul that left at least twelve people dead, including an American soldier.
“The Taliban has never been hit harder than it is being hit right now. Killing 12 people, including one great American soldier, was not a good idea. There are much better ways to set up a negotiation. The Taliban knows they made a big mistake, and they have no idea how to recover!” said Trump on Saturday, a week after he announced that Washington had called off peace negotiations with the Taliban after the group admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed at least 10 people, including one U.S. service member.
In a series of tweets last week Trump said he had been set to meet senior Taliban leaders, and, separately, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, at Camp David; however, he canceled the meeting and called off negotiations after the group admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed a US soldier.
What did Mr. Trump say?
“....an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately canceled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position? They didn’t, they only made it worse! If they cannot agree to a ceasefire during these very important peace talks, and would even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway. How many more decades are they willing to fight?
On September 5, at least 12 people were killed--including one American soldier--and 42 wounded, in a car bomb attack in Kabul. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
But Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of the Hizb-e-Islami party and candidate for the upcoming presidential election, considers resumed peace talks inevitable.
“Trump called off the talks unilaterally and it was surprising for the Taliban, too. Despite the progress with the talks--they were a few hours away from signing the agreement—[the Taliban] suddenly heard that Mr. Trump had cancelled the talks. Now neither the US nor the Taliban have any other option except to resume the talks,” said Hekmatyar, who entered Afghan politics as a result of a peace deal with the Afghan government in 2016.
In the meantime, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, during a meeting of NATO Chiefs of Defense in Slovenia, said that the alliance will continue its cooperation with the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) until peace and security prevail in the country.
He said that NATO believes a durable settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan cannot be reached by military means alone, and NATO is committed to its mission in the country.
“We all agree that it is clear that a sustainable solution in Afghanistan cannot be reached by military means alone. NATO Allies and partners will continue to train and advise Afghan security forces. We make them stronger, so that they can fight international terrorism and create and sustain security and stability in their own country,” Peach said on Saturday during the two-hour meeting of NATO’s military committee.
“Our military presence is there to create the conditions for peace,” he said.
On September 2, The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, after wrapping up nine round of talks in Doha, said the United States and the Taliban had reached an agreement in principle, but it would not be final until US President Trump agreed on it.
“Yes, we have reached an agreement in principle,” Mr. Khalilzad told TOLOnews’ Lotfullah Najafizada just hours after he briefed Afghan leaders on the US-Taliban deal. “Of course, it is not final until the US president [Donald Trump] agrees on it. So, at the moment, we are at that stage.”
The Afghan conflict has cost almost 2,400 American lives and hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars. As the war approaches its 18th year, 14,000 US troops are still in Afghanistan and senior intelligence officials have repeatedly warned that the country remains fragile and could once again become a terrorist haven.