Afghanistan
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In an unexpected move, US President Donald Trump canceled the secret meeting separately with the Taliban leader and Afghan president at Camp David. President Trump also called off the dialogue process between the USA and the Afghan Taliban. The dialogue process was started a year ago in Qatar’s capital Doha. President Trump took these initiatives in response to a suicide attack that killed an American soldier along with 11 others. Experts believe that cancellation of dialogues will prolong this 18 years old conflict. Afghan government praised the US decision and assured that Afghanistan will cooperate with the USA and allies to bring the peace in the country.

A Taliban representative in Doha told Al Jazeera TV that the Taliban will give a response after a high-level Taliban meeting. In a statement issued on Sunday, Taliban claimed that cancellation of dialogues was amounted to prolong the war. On September 2, the USA and the Taliban conducted their ninth round of talks. Both showed positive response at the end of the ninth round. US representative Zalmay Khalilzad claimed that both the parties had reached the final draft and the deal would be finalized soon. The US-Taliban talks were based on four key issues. Firstly the Taliban will not allow foreign fighters to conduct terrorist activities. Secondly, the US will completely withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. Thirdly Taliban will go for intra-Afghan dialogues. Fourthly the Taliban will follow a permanent ceasefire.

The government of the Taliban was toppled by USA and coalition in 2001. The USA and coalition believe that the Taliban gave refuge to Al-Qaeda which was responsible for the 9/11 attacks in the USA. Complete withdrawal of US troops was the first and long-standing demand of the Taliban. Currently, there are about 14,000 US troops and 17,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Taliban had rejected the US and Afghan government demand to follow a ceasefire. In recent weeks Taliban have increased insurgent activities against the Afghan government and allied forces. Last week Taliban fighters entered the Northern Afghan city Kunduz. They have successfully captured many areas of Kunduz. Taliban also launched an offensive in other Afghan cities. Baghlan-Kabul and Kunduz-Baghlan highways were captured and blocked by the Taliban.

The Taliban also claimed the responsibility of two attacks in Kabul. These two attacks resulted in killings of 30 people including a US soldier and a Romanian person who was a member of the NATO’s Afghan mission. Some experts believe that the cancellation of dialogues is a positive step by the USA. They believe that talks with the Afghan Taliban will provide them (Taliban) the legitimacy to govern Afghanistan. Some experts believe that the cancellation of dialogues is a bargaining tactic by the Trump administration. They believe that sooner or later Trump will reverse his recent move. They think that Trump administration wants to be at a higher position on the negotiation table.

Some political analysts opine that Trump administration will pressurize the Taliban to accept the demands of the Afghan government. The Afghan government and some officials of US administration believe that a complete withdrawal of US forces will create a political and administrative vacuum in Afghanistan. This will eventually put the country in the civil war.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani claimed that peace cannot be achieved unless the Taliban stop offensives and held direct negotiation with the Afghan government. On the other hand, the Taliban has refused direct talks with the Afghan government. Taliban believe that the current Afghan government is a western puppet and it lacks the power to conduct dialogues. US defense officials believe that the Taliban will have to stop the insurgency and should hold direct talks with the Afghan government. They also believe that the Taliban should follow the rules settled by the Afghan government for dialogues.

Trump’s announcement of canceling the secret Camp David meeting with Afghan leaders was surprising to many in Washington and Kabul. Some experts believe that arranging such a meeting just before the anniversary of 9/11 attacks could have hurt the sentiments of victims. So the cancellation of dialogues and meeting is a positive step by the Trump administration. By canceling the dialogue process the Trump administration has nullified the concept that the USA is promoting the Taliban as a legitimate force in Afghanistan. After canceling the dialogues, the USA is in a better position to restart the negotiation process. Throughout the dialogue process, the Taliban adopted a hawkish stance towards the USA and the Afghan government. The Taliban believe that USA administration is facing intense public pressure to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

Related: United Nations Report on Afghanistan