Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

Growing Concern over US-Taliban Peace Deal

US officials sat for more than one year across the table to negotiate peace with the Taliban outfit and finalized a draft peace deal which is not acceptable to the Kabul government. The agreement does not put an end to the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan and all the controversial issues between the Taliban and their US interlocutors have set to be resolved in intra-Afghan dialogue.
After US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad briefed Afghan leaders, including President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani, in Kabul, Ghani’s running mate Amrullah Saleh said the Kabul government would not sign what he described it a “shameful and disgraceful agreement” and that Afghans were ready for further sacrifices. Reports say that the draft recognizes Taliban’s preferred title the “Islamic Emirates” though the US calls the group Taliban.
Now as Khalilzad is seeking to build a consensus with the Kabul government before the deal is signed, Afghan officials are concerned about the accord, drafted behind closed doors, and deem some of the issues debatable. Although political pundits believe that “Islamic Emirates” is a title for the Taliban not Afghanistan, the Taliban’s pressure on their US interlocutors bore the desired fruit for their leadership. On the other hand, the US side could not persuade the Taliban to declare a ceasefire, which was presumed as the main goal of the talks.
Time magazine’s Kimberly Dozier has now released that the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has refused to sign off on the agreement because, according to Dozier’s report, “It doesn’t guarantee the continued presence of US counterterrorism forces to battle al-Qaeda, the survival of the pro-US government in Kabul, or even an end to the fighting in Afghanistan.”
Michael Rubin said in his commentary titled “The Afghanistan agreement is even worse than first reported” that as Khalilzad had been telling people the Taliban had promised not to allow al-Qaeda to use Afghan territory as a launch pad for their attacks on the United States, those privy to the deal say the Taliban have made no explicit promise to cut ties with al-Qaeda.
The US-Taliban negotiations were the only gleam of hope for Afghan ordinary people for end of conflict. However, the draft agreement is disappointing for not ending the conflict. Although Khlilzad said in a tweet that the agreement “will reduce violence and open the door for Afghans to sit together to negotiate an honorable and sustainable peace” and a sovereign Afghanistan that does not pose threat to the US and its allies, Afghans do not trust the Taliban, the group which promised Afghan representatives in an unofficial dialogue to reduce violence but rather intensified their militancy against both Afghan combatants and non-combatants. Thus, after holding nine rounds of talks, the only outcome for the Afghan government is that Khalilzad and his team could only persuade the Taliban to negotiate with the Ghani administration. It is believed that any other country such as Russia and China could also broker peace talks between the Taliban and the Kabul government.
The backdoor talks left Afghan people in the dark about both the process and the details of those dealings. After the news released that signing peace agreement was imminent between the Taliban and US representatives, Afghans, on tenterhooks as to what decisions had been made about their future, had little choice but to refresh Twitter. In short, the exclusionary nature of the talks has fill the air with fear and disappointment for Afghan people. Women are highly concerned about their fate and fear if the Islamic Emirates will return with their old ideology.
Worst of all, militancy has been escalated and the Taliban still carry out indiscriminate attacks. Almost 4,000 non-combatants have lost their lives in the country in the first half of this year, with a 27 percent increase in war-related civilian deaths in the second quarter. 
Hours after Khalizad brief Afghan officials on the agreement, the Taliban militants carried out a deadly suicide attack in a high-security zone that is home to several international organizations in Kabul, killing more than a dozen people.
The Taliban show no sincerity for peace since they have intensified their attacks and threatened to mar the process of presidential elections.
If the peace agreement is to open the door to a real reconciliation between the Taliban the Kabul government, then the Kabul government must be legitimate, and nothing proves legitimacy like democratic victory.
With the growing concerns about the US-Taliban peace agreement, the two sides have to revise their deal without any hurry so that it could be acceptable to both Afghan and US officials.