Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

Afghans Likely to Prefer Biden to Trump

With the US elected President Joe Biden at the helm, the Taliban leadership fears that the peace agreement it signed with the Trump administration in late February may be at stake since the group did not honor the deal as it maintained ties with al-Qaeda and refused to declare ceasefire. The Trump administration gave much concessions to the Taliban outfit through delisting their leaders from the UN blacklist, legitimizing it through signing peace deal, and increasing its international reputation – which triggered the public concerns in Afghanistan.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad sought to reintegrate the Taliban into the Afghanistan’s political system at any cost. He signed peace deal with the Taliban before the US presidential elections were held and Trump declared to withdraw the American troops from Afghanistan by Christmas aimed at buying credit in the elections. In other words, both Khalilzad and Trump pushed the Taliban for signing a deal and sought a hasty withdrawal regardless of the facts that the Taliban could be emboldened and would continue their militancy. In doing so, the Americans’ blood and treasure as well as Afghans’ heavy sacrifices for democracy, human rights, constitutional principles, and women’s rights and freedoms would have been undone. In short, Khalilzad and Trump could gamble decades of Afghans’ achievements since they viewed political issues through the lens of businessmen.
After signing peace with the Taliban group, Khalilzad’s fame and reputation is believed to be reduced in the eye of Afghan people for two main reasons: first, Khalilzad marginalized the Afghan government from negotiations with the Taliban and held talks behind closed door. Second, he aimed at reintegrating the Taliban group into the system without pressing it to reduce violence or declare ceasefire. Afghans’ self-dignity was hurt and their conscience was outraged by Khalilzad’s selfish attitude towards the peace talks.
To Afghans’ unmitigated chagrin, the US-Taliban peace deal did not lead to peace or stability in Afghanistan, which shattered the public hope. The escalated militancy and heavy fatalities in Afghanistan indicate that the US outgoing President could not play a constructive role in the issue of Afghanistan.
To view the country’s general reaction towards US elections, the Taliban had reportedly prayed for the victory of Donald Trump. On the contrary, Afghans showed tendency to the victory of Biden hoping that peace talks be reviewed and the Taliban be pressed to declare ceasefire. Afghans also hope that Washington may include military deal in the agenda if the Taliban continue their militancy and killing Afghan soldiers and civilians. Meanwhile, the people of Afghanistan expect Biden to pressure the Taliban’s supporters to stop backing and harboring their members.
Meanwhile, to move the peace process forward, the Biden administration is likely to form international consensus and call regional and international states to put their weight behind the process. He will also view the status quo more realistically and is unlikely to agree with a hasty withdrawal of American troops.
It is believed that Biden is a man of wisdom and principle and, unlike Trump, will not view the issues through commercial lens. Contrary to Trump, Biden is a veteran political figure and will decide issues more cautiously without engaging his personal feelings.
It is self-explanatory that Afghans will admire a political leader to deal the issue of peace successfully. Since Trump lost the war in Afghanistan and focused all his attention on hasty withdrawal, Afghans were apprehensive about his decision.
Many believe that the Taliban sought to play a foul game despite coming to the negotiating table. They lacked goodwill and intensified their attacks against Afghan combatants and non-combatants.
It is also believed that the Taliban’s backers continue their support to the Taliban or at least do not put their weight behind the Afghan peace process with genuine intention.
The peace process is a highly rocky route but the talks are likely to bear the desired result if four issues be considered: first, the Taliban should negotiate with goodwill and reduce their violence against the Afghan state and nation. Second, regional and global consensus needs to be formed and the world support the process. Meanwhile, the Taliban’s safe havens must be eliminated and their members must not be harbored and regional stakeholders have to use their leverage on the Taliban. Third, talks should be inclusive and all sectors of the society, including civil society activists and religious scholars, be included in the talks. Fourth, the international community should pressure the Taliban to respect the demands, preconditions, and red line of the Afghan nation and state and stop haggling over the establishment of Islamic Emirate, which is feared by the Afghan people, and imposing their will on the people.