Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, August 4th, 2020

Afghans’ Concerns about Hasty Troop Pullout

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Afghans’ Concerns about Hasty  Troop Pullout

Many Afghans who see themselves most closely allied with American values – and most dependent on US support – fear they have the most to lose from the peace deal. Supporters of women’s rights, civil society and some sectors of the country’s political and security establishment described reading the deal with a mix of disbelief and anger.
After more than 18 years of a US-led war in Afghanistan, the agreement made no mention of any of the ideals once touted by the conflict’s supporters and architects.
Democracy and women’s rights were the ideals described as central to the US mission in Afghanistan following the launch of the war after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. For years, the Taliban had given haven to Osama bin Laden and other top leaders of al-Qaeda.
In his State of the Union address the following year, former US President George W. Bush cited advances in women’s rights. “The last time we met in this chamber, the mothers and daughters of Afghanistan were captives in their own homes, forbidden from working or going to school. Today women are free,” he said in 2002.
However, women’s rights and democratic principles are still challenged seriously by the Taliban militants and other terrorist networks after almost two decades of conflict. Afghan women are highly apprehensive about the US-Taliban peace deal, signed in February in Qatar. They are concerned about the Taliban’s ideology as well as their political position in the future government.
Under the peace deal, the Taliban made several commitments to fight terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in exchange for the withdrawal of US troops in 14 months. But what the deal did not include were Taliban commitments concerning what a future Afghan government would look like.
Despite signing peace deal with Washington, the Taliban declared renewed attacks on Afghan forces, quickly dashing hopes of a prolonged ceasefire amid further negotiations. The Taliban’s intensified attacks against Afghan soldiers and civilians after the peace deal indicate their lukewarm response to peace talks.
The UN Security Council has reported that the Taliban share a close tie with al-Qaeda, which indicates that the Taliban are unlikely to honor their deal with the Trump administration. Notwithstanding the UN’s report, Washington is seeking to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.
It is believed that if the Kabul government was party to the agreement, much of the challenges would have been resolved, and the future government would have been discussed. In other words, marginalization of the Ghani administration in the negotiations of peace emboldened the Taliban and slowed down the start of the intra-Afghan dialogue since the Taliban seek to gain concessions through their escalated insurgency.
Overall, Afghans’ concerns are reasonable for few reasons: First, women’s rights and democratic principles have not been institutionalized and women still see their rights at stake in the peace talks. They urge the government to include more female representatives in the intra-Afghan dialogue. Second, the Taliban’s persistence on the establishment of the “Islamic Emirate” and their harsh practices and radical ideology increase the public dismay. Afghans fear that the Taliban will not honor their commitment, mainly after the withdrawal of the US forces. Third, the White House seems to be in a hurry to withdraw the American troops from the country even though there are still obstacles to the intra-Afghan dialogue.
With this in mind, Afghans are unlikely to support the US troop withdrawal unless the intra-Afghan dialogue is brokered and led to sustainable peace and stability. Afghans believe that the hasty withdrawal of the American forces will create vacuum in the country, which will put an adverse effect on the security situation.
Since the Kabul administration was not signatory to the US-Taliban agreement, it has to be supported and the Taliban should be pressured to hold negotiations with Afghan officials without further ifs and buts. The Taliban outfit has to honor its deal with Washington and discontinue its tie with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. If the group disregards its commitment and continues its escalated insurgency, peace will remain elusive.
A hasty troop pullout is not recommended. The US and its allies have to put their weight behind the intra-Afghan dialogue and pressure the Taliban to honor their deal. In addition, all regional stakeholders should use their leverage on the Taliban to come to the table with Afghan officials with genuine intention.

Many Afghans who see themselves most closely allied with American values – and most dependent on US support – fear they have the most to lose ...

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