Speaking to the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Mohsen Pakaeen explained the reasons for Trump’s unannounced trip to Afghanistan and the criticisms voiced by the Afghan people and political figures. He said the trip was primarily aimed at boosting Mr. Ashraf Ghani in the presidential election the result of which is not clear yet. The question now is whether Mr. Ashraf Ghani will be the next Afghan President or Mr. Abdullah Abdullah. Mr. Trump’s move and Mr. Ashraf Ghani’s presence in Bagram were unusual and in violation of the independence of an independent state and showed Mr. Trump is seeking to support Mr. Ashraf Ghani.
Trump’s Election Campaign Trip
Pakaeen cited the impact of Trump’s trip to Afghanistan on the 2020 US presidential election and noted: “Trump has no major achievements in his foreign policy, and in such circumstances he hopes to be able to leave a positive impact in Afghanistan. In particular, he is trying to push ahead with the peace deal with the Taliban while at the same time fulfilling the promise it made to the American people to pull troops out of Afghanistan, or at least reduce their number.
The expert also said that the US president conducts these visits traditionally once a year and visits US troops in the region. He went to Iraq last year and visited Afghanistan this year. In fact, Trump does this to boost the morale of American troops, impress the military and take advantage of it domestically. Of course, this trip may have other hidden goals that will be revealed in the future.
Taliban Negotiating on Several Fronts
Commenting on negotiations held between certain regional states and the Taliban with the participation of the Afghan government after the US-Taliban talks were halted, Pakaeen said: “Taliban are playing two roles. One is the political role in which they pursue their political activities as a political group and party, and the other is a military role whereby they continue to carry out their terrorist operations to further their political goals. As part of the Taliban’s political approach, the group has been negotiating with various countries, including Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United States, but it is unlikely they would reach real peace in Afghanistan.
He explained that the reason is that the Taliban is a totalitarian group seeking absolute supremacy in Afghanistan. The Taliban disregard other tribes and groups, such as the Hazaras, Uzbeks and Tajiks, and even many moderate Pashtuns disagree with the Taliban’s approach. Taliban itself is a totalitarian group in nature, so such an approach seems unlikely to succeed because the Taliban is trying to bypass the government and negotiate with other countries as a government.
US-Taliban Talks Unlikely to Progress
Commenting on Trump’s statement that the Taliban were ready to sign the peace and ceasefire agreements, Pakaeen said: “With regard to the Taliban’s main condition that US troops must withdraw from Afghanistan before any agreement could be signed it seems unlikely that the Taliban-US talks are going to have a tangible outcome, given that the Americans are now willing to keep their troops in Afghanistan, although both sides are propagating that the talks are going well. After Trump’s trip to Afghanistan, Taliban officials said they were not ready for peace talks unless the agreement was signed, so what the Americans said about the progress of the talks were denied and the Taliban declared their condition.
Iran’s Different Outlook on Negotiations with the Taliban
Referring to Iran’s talks with the Taliban, he noted: “Our talks with the Taliban are held in coordination with the Afghan government, and Iranian officials have repeatedly stated this. We are informing the Afghan government of the Taliban’s visit to Iran and our goal is to establish Afghan-Afghan dialogue.
“We believe that Afghan-Afghan talks without foreign interference, especially by trans-regional powers such as the United States, can be fruitful, and we encourage the Taliban to negotiate with the government in this context,” he added. If meetings are held they are in line with this goal but the Taliban think differently. The Taliban are trying to bypass the government and sometimes talk about being ready to negotiate with the government, but overall this has not gone ahead and in fact conflicts and hostilities between the government and the Taliban continue.
US Disrupts Stability and Security in Afghanistan
Concerning the effects of this US action on the Afghan government and domestic politics in the country, the diplomat emphasized: As long as US troops are in Afghanistan I doubt the country would see tranquility. I believe the only thing that can bring peace back to Afghanistan is the withdrawal of foreign forces, including the US troops. The Americans brought ISIS with them. The reality is that apart from the Taliban’s role, part of Afghanistan is now insecure by ISIS, and ISIS came to Afghanistan with US help. So it seems unlikely that there will be peace in the country as long as US troops are in Afghanistan.
Referring to the views of some Afghan groups who consider the US presence necessary for security in the country, he said: “The main purpose of the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan, including the United States, was to train and empower the Afghan army so that it could provide security in Afghanistan and fight groups such as Taliban and these forces pull out later but this did not happen.”
“As long as US forces are present in Afghanistan, the Afghan army will not be powerful because it will not be subjected to a test,” Pakaeen said. Some parts of the government and groups have also raised the question that if the Americans leave, we cannot maintain security, but the reality is that in the current situation, the United States is the cause of insecurity in Afghanistan and if Afghanistan wants to be independent and have an independent army it has no choice but to try the era minus America and build a powerful military by trial and error.