Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, September 21st, 2020

Trump, Xi and Putin Risk Flames as Far as Syria in Afghanistan’s Stalling Ceasefire of the Vanities

Trump, Xi and Putin  Risk Flames as Far as Syria in  Afghanistan’s Stalling Ceasefire of the Vanities

WASHINGTION - In early September, US President Donald Trump was secretly preparing for what would have been his most striking photo call since an excursion across Korea’s demilitarised zone in June to meet Kim Jong-un.
Trump had been set for a historic summit at Camp David with the Taliban’s second-in-command, Abdul Ghani Baradar, to discuss a peace deal to bring home American troops from Afghanistan.
But the president suddenly announced on September 8 that the meeting had been cancelled after a Taliban truck bombing in Kabul killed an American soldier and 11 other people.
Continuing with the summit would have been bad political optics for both men. Trump is looking to shore up his voter base as he plots a path to a second term, and a meeting with a Taliban chief after American deaths would have done little to further his cause. Baradar meanwhile wants to take advantage of controversy that has erupted over the delayed results of the Afghan presidential election held on September 28. The winner of the polls will have to negotiate with the Taliban to reach a domestic political settlement after the group signs a deal with the US.
“What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position? They didn’t, they only made it worse!” Trump raged in a tweet after the bombing.
According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in the country, an unprecedented 1,174 civilians were killed and 3,139 wounded in Afghanistan’s conflict-related violence between July and September. Insurgents were held responsible for 62 per cent of these numbers, but the proportion of casualties caused by pro-government forces climbed to 26 per cent.
Many died during the Taliban’s siege of northern Baghlan province in the days leading up to the scheduled Camp David talks. The civilian toll was echoed in Pentagon statistics: the US conducted 1,113 air strikes in Afghanistan in September, up from 810 raids in August, and 537 in July.
These figures represent the equivalent of a bad day in Syria ’s continuing civil war, and Washington think-tank scholars have been left wondering what impact developments in one conflict zone could have on the other if the proposed peace deal between the US and the Taliban is not struck soon.
There are 2.3 million Afghan refugees in neighbouring Pakistan and Iran. A similar number of Syrian refugees in Turkey are awaiting resettlement in Syria’s northern border zone following Ankara’s invasion last month and displacement of Kurdish rebels from the area. Meanwhile, about 130,000 Afghans have been internally displaced by fighting this year. In Syria, the number is 166,000.
The recent death of Islamic State (Isis) chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a US special forces operation in Idlib has added another variable to the mix. His death could inspire new violence. (South China Morning Post)