On December 5, 2020, the veteran diplomat and US special envoy for Afghan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad led the first reconciliation meeting that is taking place between the “Taliban” movement and an Afghan government delegation in the Qatari capital, Doha, since the agreement on the negotiation agenda was announced at the end of last month. A reconciliation aimed at placing the Afghans on the map for a political solution and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire between the parties.
Zad was highly motivated – as his recent moves and rounds showed – to advance the Afghan peace process, a mission that the incoming US administration, led by President-elect Joe Biden, is watching, although it is more interested in the White House agreement with the Taliban that was signed last February to withdraw. American from Afghanistan. So Zad is now being watched by the new US administration, specifically its senior foreign policy advisers, especially as Afghan-American policy experts have urged them to keep him, as they see that the Biden administration will not find the most suitable person who increased this position to continue it, as he is a veteran diplomat who grew up in Kabul He has established strong relationships with Afghan leaders, including Taliban leaders, and is indispensable for his great knowledge of peace negotiations and the areas and actors of power on Afghan soil, as Afghans negotiate in their primary languages with a deep awareness of their cultural context.
Although there are those in the new administration who do not want to increase their rivals in the “Republican Party”; They are probably convinced that replacing Zad is a big risk at this sensitive stage, because despite Trump and Biden agreeing to the ultimate goal of withdrawing US forces from Afghanistan, Trump is doing so very quickly, and is using his last time to put the Pentagon on a path to reducing the number of troops. The American administration is in Afghanistan by January 15, that is, just five days before Biden is inaugurated as president, in order to put the next administration of his country in a critical deadlock that may put negotiations in the wind, so the presence of Zad may save the Biden administration from a deep geopolitical trap that Trump continues He made it in his last days in the lands of Afghans.
As for the Americans, there was no point of revenge for the attacks of September 11, 2001, more important than Afghanistan. There, weeks after the events of September, Washington began its invasion of Afghan lands and its war with the “Taliban” movement that harbored the first accused Al Qaeda organization in those attacks. The Washington-led coalition quickly eradicated the foundations of the military movement.
But although the US forces have not left Afghanistan since that time, and the coalition operations against the Taliban have not stopped, the movement has regrouped over a decade and a half and, by 2018, it has become a rebel force that controls more than two-thirds of Afghanistan, with about 157,000 people killed, including More than 43,000 civilians in the US invasion and its aftermath, and more than 2,400 American soldiers as well, according to Brown University statistics on what happened; The presence of US forces in Afghanistan has been a constant source of concern for the last three US administrations. During George W. Bush’s tenure, US troop levels started at about 1,300 soldiers after the events of September, and that number rose to 25,000 with the handover of power to Barack Obama by George Bush Jr., and although Obama opposed the US intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, he eventually succumbed to Pentagon pressure and the number increased The forces have reached a greater level, as the number of American soldiers in the middle of its first term, specifically in 2010, reached about one hundred thousand.
With the arrival of the Trump administration, who declared himself a “peacemaker”, the Republican president began his first year by campaigning to end the American presence there, but he was forced to adhere to the advice of his advisers not to withdraw or start the reduction before reaching a settlement, adding 4000 soldiers in 2017, then his administration went towards A historic negotiating political settlement in the Qatari capital, Doha, with the Taliban early last year, according to which his country’s forces would be expelled from Afghan territory by May of this year 2021.
At that time, in February 2020, the Trump administration concluded a deal with the Taliban that stipulated the withdrawal of all American forces and NATO, and the evacuation of many Afghan bases within 14 months. Indeed, the US military reduced its presence to 4,500 soldiers, after the number was 13,000. At the time of signing the agreement, and in return, the Taliban is responsible for severing ties with Al Qaeda, and is working to prevent armed attacks from Afghanistan on companies, international organizations and foreign communities, as well as various local government targets, and according to the agreement, it must also participate in talks with the government to try to end the conflict between them .
In mid-November, Christopher Miller, the Acting US Defense Secretary, announced that the Trump administration was planning to reduce US forces to 2,500 in January, and this increased speculation that Trump’s insistence on completing the settlement and withdrawing until his last moments at home White is like a “poisoned cup” bequeathed to Biden, as Trump refused to repeat the experience of his predecessors, George Bush Jr. and Obama, who in their last days in the presidency postponed decisions to increase forces in Afghanistan or not, and preferred to leave that legacy entirely to the next administration. As for Trump, Trump seems intent on making The political path is as difficult for Biden as he can on every possible American foreign front.
From the outset, critics of the agreement between Washington and the Taliban have focused on the fact that it represents a purely political decision that does not depend on military advice, and has led to international concern that the US administration has become an unreliable partner, especially from other allies on Afghan soil, which are countries that will leave it. Washington is alone in the country. Although those countries were not attacked on September 11, they gave Washington the official international legitimacy required there for 19 years, sacrificing more than a thousand soldiers from their soldiers and billions of dollars from their coffers, and that concern can be illustrated in its entirety in what NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that “Afghanistan risks becoming once again a platform for international terrorists to plan and organize attacks on our homelands,” as he put it, meaning here that keeping a small American force would give allied countries such as Britain and Germany the ability to survive and train the Afghan army.
On the other hand, and to complete their point of view, the survival of an American force, regardless of its size, makes the Taliban’s ability to seize any limited cities, which strengthens the Afghan government and gives it an opportunity to negotiate from a source of strength, and in the end these allies see that the American withdrawal will leave Afghanistan in a state of chaos. This makes it a safe haven for armed groups, similar to what happened in Iraq after the early withdrawal in 2011 by the Obama administration, but this is already being achieved with the reassurance of those groups that the Americans are out of the scene, as the country has already witnessed high waves of violence. Last October, the highest number of victims in Afghanistan in recent years.
Critics of the agreement also believe that the Taliban’s abandonment of al-Qaeda is “an illusion,” as the movement’s leaders continue to communicate regularly with the organization and offer their constant reassurances that relations exist, as it appears to them to believe that the Taliban will fulfill its promise to help “contain the growing threat from ISIS.” Another two, and the principal researcher at the Clements Center for National Security, Jim Jolby, describes the results of a complete withdrawal if it happens that it will be “potentially devastating”, expecting the fighting on Afghan soil to escalate dramatically with more civilian casualties, adding that despite the exaggeration sometimes in the size Threats from armed groups and organizations, “the chaos that will follow the complete US withdrawal will allow them to rebuild their capabilities,” as he put it, leaving Trump behind an unsustainable presence in Afghanistan, a crisis for the Afghan people, and chaos for the incoming Biden-Harris administration.
In fact, the Taliban know very well de facto that it is difficult for the Biden administration to deviate from the Trump plan to withdraw from Afghanistan, in its ultimate goal at least. Biden opposed the increase in US forces under Obama, and has been adamant over the past decade on the importance of reducing the number of those forces to a few Thousands, and called for focusing on “striking at what threatens regional and American security in Afghanistan,” and he explicitly stated that if he is elected he will keep small forces in Afghanistan to ensure control of any potential threats from ISIS and Al Qaeda, which indicates that he will be more stringent in implementing the exit deal. Afghanistan from Trump, and he will pay more attention to the Taliban’s commitment to end cooperation with Al Qaeda.
Therefore, the next Democratic president is expected to keep a small force under the name of “fighting terrorism” in Afghanistan after the scheduled military withdrawal, which is in line with the desire of Washington’s allies and regional powers in general who see the importance of the orderly departure of US forces. As Candice Rondo, senior analyst for the International Crisis Group on Afghanistan, says: “Biden only needs to reconsider the issue of any additional withdrawal if there is a clear and significant drop and sustained violence by the Taliban, for at least the next few months, as the Biden team can move forward. More assertively, by adopting a basic assumption that the Taliban have no plans to curb violence until they are sure they have more power in Kabul. With the release of thousands of Taliban prisoners under the agreement with the Afghan government, and declining levels of US forces, it is likely to intensify The rebellion next spring, as the annual ritual fighting begins again like clockwork.
So, Trump aspires until his last days in the White House that the end of his presidency carry the banner “The Afghan Mission Accomplished” as part of his personal ambition to continue his image that he has ended most of the US international military crises and fulfilled a large part of his electoral promises to foreign policy, even if that comes in A trap and instability that the Biden administration will face, but the Biden administration, despite the clarity of that trap, will follow the same “Trumpian path”, so to speak, but at a slower pace, more deliberate and longer negotiations, and the Taliban will apparently tend to identify with that path in an attempt to reduce the presence. The Americans are on the soil of their country to the minimum that can be dealt with in the future, a limit that the movement believes will likely enable it to exercise greater authority over the Afghan regime and the country by extension.