The Taliban are urging the United States to withdraw from the country, as per the 2020 agreement.
On February 16th, the Taliban’s leader Mullah Abdullah Abdul Ghani Baradar urged the United States to abide by its commitments to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan in accordance with the US-Taliban peace deal signed between the two sides in Doha.
He sent an open letter to the American people.
The Taliban senior leader has also said that the group is committed to act upon the US-Taliban peace agreement, stating that he is confident that the Afghans will finally agree on an Islamic system and sustainable peace and security through a political settlement.
“We are fully confident that the Afghans themselves can achieve the establishment of an Islamic government and enduring peace and security through intra-Afghan dialogue,” an excerpt from the letter says.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is sincerely committed to finding a political solution to the ongoing conflict and therefore, took the initiative by opening a political office in the nation of Qatar towards this end,” the letter reads.
“Now that a year has passed since the signing of the Doha agreement, we urge the American side to remain committed to the full implementation of this accord,” Baradar said in the letter.
In the letter, the Taliban also said that they will respect women’s rights in accordance to the Islamic principles.
“Just as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has clarified in many instances that it is committed to upholding and guaranteeing all rights of women afforded to them by Islamic law, we would like to once again assure the international community in this regard,” the letter said.
Peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban are on-going, with accusations that they are being sabotaged by the Taliban.
Mateen Bek, a member of the peace negotiating team representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the talks with the Taliban, has said that the Taliban are making unnecessary excuses to attend the peace negotiation table.
“Before going to Islamabad, they were looking a bit serious, their colleagues who have not travelled to Pakistan had raised optimism in their talks with our colleagues, but their gesture changed after returning from Islamabad,” said Mateen Bek, a member of the peace negotiating team, representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the talks with the Taliban.
Former Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla said he has traveled to Afghanistan and Qatar several times in recent months to help broker a peace deal between the government in Kabul and the Taliban insurgent group.
In an interview at his home in Jakarta, he said that he went to meet the two parties in a personal capacity to “give them thoughts, as well as ways of how to negotiate effectively.”
Kalla said one way he could help mediate the conflict is by offering suggestions to both sides based on “Indonesia’s experiences in dealing with conflict areas,” adding that he aimed to operate within Indonesia’s constitution by helping “maintain world order by means of lasting peace.”
There are many stakeholders that would wish the situation to improve.
At the same time, US President Joe Biden is being pushed to extend the US presence in Afghanistan, and even potentially increase it.
He currently has 3 options:
- Withdraw all 2,500 US troops by May 1, as per the agreement. According to US media, and the new leadership at the Department of Defense this is an unacceptable option, since war needs to continue.
- Negotiate an extension with the Taliban, then leave – many support this, allegedly, because they argue that leaving by May 1st, 2021, would be too soon. An extension was also the key recommendation in a congressionally mandated report in February 2021 from the Afghanistan Study Group, an independent, bipartisan commission of experts co-chaired by retired Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, former Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, and US Institute of Peace President Nancy Lindborg.
- Stay in Afghanistan indefinitely – this according to many is the worst possible option, but it seems quite viable, seeing as how there’s little will in the current US leadership to withdraw in any reasonable timeframe and honor its agreements.
US President Joe Biden would not be okay if the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, the White House has said, underlining that there is an ongoing process of considering the next steps to ensure peace in the war-torn country.
I don’t think he would say he’d be okay with that, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday when asked if Biden is okay with the Taliban ruling Afghanistan.
But again, there’s an ongoing process of considering the next steps in Afghanistan. That’s an ongoing discussion, and I’m not going to get ahead of where that sits at this point in time, Psaki said.
Separately, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said that Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has been in constant communication with Afghan partners about the ongoing review process and how they are working their way through that.
General (rtd) Joseph F. Dunford, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who chairs Afghan Study Group of the US Institute of Peace, told lawmakers that the Taliban were not meeting the conditionality of the February 2020 agreement. That was as a result of not seeing a broad reduction in violence and as a result of not seeing the Taliban demonstrate the will or capacity to prevent Al-Qaeda from using Afghanistan as a platform.
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