Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, January 25th, 2021

Which One Will Be A Mistake: Talks Or Hasty Troop Pullout?

The Afghan government and its international allies seem optimistic about the outcome of the intra-Afghan dialogue ongoing in the Qatari capital of Doha, but reaching peace agreement will be a rocky road and there are some individuals apprehensive about the result. Earlier, former US national security adviser HR McMaster said that the Trump administration had been “absolutely wrong” in its negotiations with the Taliban. He was concerned that what “power-sharing with the Taliban” looked like? “Is that mass executions in the soccer stadium every other Saturday? Is that every other girls’ school bulldozed?”
However, US Special Representative for Afghanistan’s Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and the Trump administration have been optimistic about the outcome of the talks and believe that they will put an end to the four decades of war in Afghanistan.
The Trump administration reiterates hasty troop pullout, which is likely to compound political turmoil through creating a vacuum. That is, if Washington focuses on troop withdrawal without considering the consequences, peace and stability will remain elusive and the blood and treasure spent by the US and its forces will be in vain.
Trump has a history of taking to Twitter to announce policy, frequently to the surprise of those involved in formulating that policy or carrying it out. For instance, he has forecast troop withdrawals even without informing the Pentagon, as he did with Syria in 2018, in a move that prompted the resignation of Jim Mattis as defense secretary.
Trump tweeted recently, “We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!” The Taliban leadership appreciated Trump’s statements as one of their leaders is cited as saying that he hoped Trump would win the election and wind up US military presence in Afghanistan. 
Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the agreement reached with Afghan officials and the Taliban to leave Afghanistan was “conditions based” adding that Washington would end the war “responsibly”.
It is believed that if the Trump administration withdraws US troops without consideration to the political and security situation in Afghanistan, holding talks with the Taliban would be “absolutely wrong”, to borrow McMaster’s terms. History as well as the American people will condemn Trump if he leads Afghanistan to a civil unrest through a hasty troop pullout. In short, if negotiations do not result in sustainable peace and stability, all sacrifices made within the last two decades will be proved abortive.
Meanwhile, power-sharing with the Taliban will be significant if the Taliban could have moderated their ideology and do not persist on Islamic Sharia based on their fundamental interpretation. On the contrary, if they seek to impose their warped mind on people and disregard the public demands, talks are unlikely to bear the desired result. With this in mind, Trump should no more think like a businessman in political issues, especially regarding Afghanistan, which is highly complicated. Instead, his administration should monitor the Taliban whether or not they fulfill their promises. To put it in another item, if peace talks – after giving international recognition as well as concessions to the Taliban group – fail to lead to peace, the Taliban will be the winner. Worst, the democratic gains achieved within the last two decades will be at stake. In such a case, women will lose all they achieved in social, political, and economic sectors. Hence, Trump should stop sacrificing the collective blood and treasure for his personal interests, which is sitting in the Oval Office for second round.
US officials should note that the Taliban have intensified their attacks despite sitting around the table with the government-backed negotiating team and refused to declare ceasefire or reduce violence. Afghan soldiers and civilians still pay heavy sacrifices and fight for their rights and freedoms. Talks have brought no tangible changes in the life of public. If the Taliban have come to the table with genuine intention and seek to practice upon the agreement, they have to reduce violence.
In the wake of the Taliban’s violent practices and turning back to their demands, which are reduction in violence and declaration of ceasefire, Afghan ordinary people are really apprehensive about a hasty US troop withdrawal. Trump should not turn a deaf ear to his military advisers and think twice before taking to Twitter.
Neither Afghanistan nor its neighboring countries are likely to approve a hasty troop withdrawal, which will simply embolden the Taliban. Negotiations will take long and Trump has to maintain his patient rather than making a mistake, which will never be reciprocated or undone.