Kabul: A senior Afghan peace official told the Financial Times that President Donald Trump called on US troops to return home before Christmas, which gave the rebellious Taliban the upper hand in the negotiations.
Trump issued this tweet last week, and a few hours later his national security adviser said that Washington will reduce its troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 by early next year. The Taliban welcomed this announcement.
Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the Afghanistan High Commission for National Reconciliation, said in an interview with the Financial Times on Thursday: “No one has provided any clarification.”
He said that the Taliban “may see their advantages” and that if the United States withdraws, it will forcibly return to the Taliban.
An agreement reached between the United States and the Taliban in February stated that foreign forces will leave Afghanistan before May 2021 in exchange for the Taliban’s anti-terrorist guarantee. The Taliban agreed to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and power-sharing plan with the Afghan government.
This week, during an offensive in the southern province of Helmand, the United States participated in an airstrike against the Taliban. During this period, its forces occupied the main checkpoint and blocked the provincial capital.
Diplomats and officials warned that the violent conflict is eroding the trust required for successful peace negotiations in Doha.
Taliban spokespersons and Afghan government negotiators said on Wednesday that negotiations are continuing, which is why some of their negotiators met after suspending discussions on controversial issues and “current solutions.”
Amnesty International’s head of South Asia, Omar Waraich, said in a statement that the situation could deteriorate rapidly as thousands of people are trapped in fighting.
He said both parties must ensure that civilians are protected and can safely leave the theater to avoid humanitarian disasters.