Referring to the suspension of the Taliban-US talks by Donald Trump, Mohsen Pakaeen pointed out that Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for Afghanistan is seriously seeking a compromise between the US and the Taliban. The text of the agreement has been specified and even reached Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, but it has not been officially released, he said in an interview with website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations (SCFR).
He added: “The Trump administration is in dire need to make a move in Afghanistan and record it as an achievement in its foreign policy. On the one hand, the United States wants to show that it is an influential country in Afghanistan, while at the same time it is ready to withdraw troops from Afghanistan; on the other hand, it has the ability to reach an agreement with a group such as the Taliban. This is Trump’s foreign policy need.
The former diplomat noted: “Taliban as a totalitarian group seeks to take maximum advantage of this agreement and be able to make great achievements and pursue its totalitarian goals in Afghanistan. Therefore, both sides have the resolve to do so.”
Clearly, the opposition voiced by Trump over the killing of one of his several hundred soldiers could not prevent the sides from pursuing a deal. The Taliban wants to gain more concessions by taking a position of power and pursue its own terrorist acts, demonstrating that it is capable of harming American interests. Trump, on the other hand, is facing opposition within America; those who tell him he should not make a deal with the brutal Taliban group. Sometimes Trump takes tactical actions to calm them down. But the bottom line is that the two sides have come to a conciliation agreement and are seeking to bring the matter to conclusion.
“Some of the Taliban terrorist actions and Trump’s tactical moves do not mean that they have abandoned the agreement, because one of the reasons is that peripheral countries such as Iran and Russia should pay little attention to the text of the agreement,” the former director of Afghanistan affairs department at the IRI Ministry of Foreign Affairs added. The US and Taliban want to pretend that this agreement is not serious or has failed. Thus they want to make sure that there would be no initiatives to counter a deal that has endangered the security of the region.
“These are tricks that could have been engineered in a deal between the US and the Taliban to divert the attention of countries in their analyses of the situation,” he said.
But the important point is that there is an agreement and the US government signs the agreement not with the Taliban but with the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ and names ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ an emirate or Wahhabi-Salafi line of thinking. It is an extremist group with a terrorist background that can pose a serious threat to the region.
He argued that the issue was not about a US deal with the Taliban but an agreement “with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”, meaning that the presence of the formal and legal government of Afghanistan has been ignored. The Afghan constitution which is the outcome of a lot of hard work and blood of its martyrs, has been ignored. The United States is in fact making a new move to enforce other laws and standards in Afghanistan that will promote terrorism and insecurity in the country.
“We should not consider the negotiations over because of differences of opinion between the United States and the Taliban. We must pay attention to America’s hidden goals to bring the Taliban back to power: A group that could be linked to the ISIS with the help of the United States. In this situation, Afghanistan will become a terrorist region with serious security problems for the region.
“This should be taken into account and the peripheral countries, especially the Islamic Republic of Iran, should carefully follow the current developments and consult with Afghanistan’s neighbors and the internal, local, regional and international actors,” he said.
He also explained some of the reasons for Trump’s suspension of talks with the Taliban: “Of course, if Trump wants to succeed in the action he is pursuing, he cannot, without the opinion of the Afghan government and other groups in the country, such as the Uzbeks, Tajiks and the Hazaras follow this agreement and ignore their role.
As is clear in the agreement reached between the US and the Taliban, there is no concession to various groups and the rest of the tribes and in fact the constitutional provisions have been completely violated and the views of Ashraf Ghani have not been addressed. This, along with domestic opposition to Trump, could put him in a position to avoid signing the agreement for now. These are, of course, all the possibilities that exist, which is why I believe we need to look closely at these developments.
Pakaeen added: “Any agreement that fails to consider the Afghan constitution and seeks to violate its constitution is doomed to failure without regard to the views of the rule of law, even if the government is in a weak position. This does not mean that this agreement has failed now, but it does mean that an agreement with these features will not last long in Afghanistan.”
Concerning his evaluation of the timing to resume the suspended talks and announcement of the outcome by the US and Taliban, he said: “There may be secret talks, but I don’t think they would reach any tangible results before the presidential election in the United States.”
On the impact of suspending the talks on Afghanistan, the former diplomat noted: “The Taliban are naturally seeking to advance their targets by sabotage and military strikes. They want the deal to be signed through pressure but the main opposition of the Taliban is with the Afghan government and the constitution. The Taliban are seeking to enact a new constitution that pursues their goals at various points while also posing as a political group.”
On the possibility of holding the presidential election in Afghanistan set for September 28, Pakaeen did not rule out the possibility of postponing the elections for one more time.