US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the rise of the Taliban | Taliban news

If someone can bring peace to Afghanistan, then US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad described himself as the right man for the job.

But in the end, the veteran diplomat seems to have overseen nothing more than the demise of the republic he helped assemble.

The 70-year-old envoy spent years as an important man for Washington to hold talks with the Taliban Pave the way Agreement to end the United States’ longest war and exit from Afghanistan.

The achievement came after more than a year of intense shuttle diplomacy during which Khalilzad visited foreign capitals, attended summits in luxury hotels, and delivered speeches at prestigious research centers.

He assured his audience of the Taliban’s willingness to discuss a compromise.

Once a prolific voice on social media, Khalilzad has been silent since the Taliban returned to power after the US-backed government collapsed in the face of a crushing blitzkrieg.

The State Department said last week that the envoy had been in Qatar working on the phones, hoping to encourage a diplomatic settlement.

But the deal he hoped would end the war was already Unleash disaster.

Hussain Haqqani, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said Khalilzad had told successive US presidents eager to withdraw their forces that he had made a peace agreement, but in reality it was a surrender.

“He negotiated badly and encouraged the Taliban and pretended that the talks would lead to a power-sharing agreement even though the Taliban had no intention of sharing power,” Haqqani told AFP.

Storated profession

Khalilzad took over as US Secretary of State in 2018 after the Trump administration appointed him as a special envoy overseeing negotiations with the Taliban.

The new mission followed a storied career. Khalilzad formed governments in the making in Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of successive US invasions, and he gained a reputation for bringing disparate groups to the negotiating table.

Washington’s decision to continue talks came after years of escalating violence in Kabul as the Taliban unleashed chaos by sending waves of suicide bombers into the Afghan capital.

Khalilzad secured the release of Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Bardar It is in Pakistan’s custody to initiate the initiative, with the two sides reaching an agreement that charts the US withdrawal after nearly 20 years of conflict.

During months of negotiations in Qatar, Khalilzad reportedly developed a close relationship with the Taliban delegation.

Baradar, Right, and Khalilzad shake hands after signing the US troop withdrawal agreement, February 2020 [Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters]

Pictures posted online showed the social envoy exchanging laughter and smiles with Taliban negotiators, sparking resentment in Afghanistan, where war broke out.

But when the US withdrawal agreement was finally signed in February 2020 at a lavish ceremony in Doha, Khalilzad secured nothing more than mostly vague assurances from the Taliban about any future peace.

Kate Clark of the Afghan Analysts Network wrote in a new report: “Khalilzad … just praised one strong commitment – that they would not attack the United States and its ‘allies.'”

The most vague promises were from the Taliban to abandon al-Qaeda and other international armed groups, and to start talking to the Afghan government.

Little time, room to maneuver

In hindsight, the agreement appears to have been little more than a series of American concessions.

The United States was leaving Afghanistan without a ceasefire and did not set up a framework for a future peace process, which would be vital to sealing off a settlement to end the war.

Rather than securing concessions from the Taliban in the months following the agreement, Khalilzad increased pressure on the Afghan government – arming the palace to immediately release thousands of Taliban prisoners who bolstered their ranks.

Adding to Kabul’s woes, the agreement effectively kicked off the countdown, with the US promising to withdraw all its remaining troops from Afghanistan by May 2021 – a deadline that was later extended to September. US President Joe Biden brought history back to August 31

The Afghan government was left with little time or room to maneuver.

Biden’s decision in April to follow through With the withdrawal the last fuse was lit, leading to an all-out attack by the Taliban that forcibly overthrew the Afghan government on August 15.

Two days ago, US lawmaker Michael Waltz – an Afghan war veteran – sent Biden a letter slandering Khalilzad’s performance.

“He gave you bad advice and his diplomatic strategy failed spectacularly,” Khalilzad wrote.

“In light of this disaster, the ambassador (Khalilzad) must resign immediately or be relieved of his post.”

On the same day, Khalilzad sent out his last tweet – pleading with the Taliban to withdraw their fighters as they converged on Kabul.

“We demand an immediate halt to attacks against cities, urge a political settlement, and warn that a government imposed by force will be a pariah state,” the envoy wrote.

By that time it was too late.

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