President Trump declared a national emergency last Thursday — but it wasn’t about the covid-19 pandemic or police brutality or nationwide protests. Rather, the subject of the emergency declaration was the International Criminal Court, the body investigating the United States for suspected war crimes in Afghanistan.
Trump announced that the ICC represents an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” The executive order pushes back by authorizing economic and diplomatic sanctions on ICC personnel working on the Afghanistan probe and anyone who helps them.
The Trump administration has consistently and directly opposed the ICC, in contrast to the more passive opposition or even ad hoc support from previous administrations.… Seguir leyendo »
Why was the Ghani-Abdullah agreement needed and what does it achieve?
President Ashraf Ghani and former Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, as well as their respective allies, had been locked in a dispute over the results of Afghanistan’s presidential election held on 28 September 2019. While preliminary numbers suggested that Ghani held a firm lead, official results were delayed for months as electoral bodies conducted recounts and, later, audits. Final results that gave Ghani just over 50 per cent, which would narrowly avoid a run-off against Abdullah, were abruptly announced in February, before the electoral complaints process was completed. Abdullah and his supporters declared the results invalid and announced their intent to establish a “parallel government”.… Seguir leyendo »
Afghanistan’s «peace deal» has been blown up. The government has resumed fighting the Taliban after a horrifying attack by gunmen on a maternity ward run by Doctors Without Borders in Kabul. Mothers and nurses were the main victims in the first attack, with 16 killed. Two of the dead were newborns.
Although the Taliban denied being responsible for the attack, Afghanistan’s national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, stated on Twitter that «their attacks this spring against Afghans are comparable to the level of fighting in past fighting seasons …This is not peace, nor its beginnings,» and that there is «little point in continuing to engage Taliban in ‘peace talks.’ … Seguir leyendo »
In late March, Afghanistan’s minister of public health publicly shared estimates that up to 25 million Afghans could eventually be infected with the novel coronavirus. This is out of a population of about 36 million. The Afghan government has announced a wide range of measures to contain the virus, mirroring global practices of physical distancing. But the weaknesses of health care infrastructure in a country weighed down by poverty and four decades of conflict render Afghanistan especially challenged to manage any major outbreak. Reports of COVID-19-related deaths remain low, but hospitals are straining and are beginning to lose staff: staff are not only falling ill, with some even dying of the disease, but many are simply refusing to work under conditions they deem hazardous.… Seguir leyendo »
Sometimes, foreign policy consists of trying to make lemonade out of lemons.
In the case of the recently signed U.S.-Taliban agreement on Afghanistan, President Trump provided the lemons, and the lead U.S. negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, and his team did the squeezing. Mr. Trump made clear that he intended to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan — with or without a “deal.” Then NATO partners pressured the United States not to reward the Taliban by conceding their long-held objective of forcing an American withdrawal for free. So, the president reportedly gave his negotiators a finite window to explore whether some deal was achievable.… Seguir leyendo »
This week is a test for peace in Afghanistan. The Taliban have an historic opportunity to show that they have the will and the ability to reduce violence. This would pave the way for negotiations among Afghans for a comprehensive peace agreement.
NATO fully supports the efforts of the United States to find a peaceful solution. These efforts have brought us closer than ever before to an end to decades of conflict in Afghanistan.
Our engagement in Afghanistan is the direct consequence of 9/11, when we triggered our collective defense clause, Article 5, for the first time in history — in support of the United States.… Seguir leyendo »
Momentum is building toward peace in Afghanistan.
On Saturday, the United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement that will pave the way for talks between the Taliban and a team of negotiators led by the Afghan government in March. There is hope, at last, of respite from the long war.
The Afghan government deserves credit for planting the seeds of peace two years ago by offering unconditional talks to the Taliban and announcing a unilateral cease-fire that blossomed into a three-day pause in hostilities in June 2018.
Kabul continued to reach out to the Taliban and sent some officials in July to an informal peace dialogue in Doha that brought together the warring sides for the first time.… Seguir leyendo »
It’s midnight in Kabul as I write this. Afghans have gone to sleep, many of them in the hopes that a partial truce negotiated between the United States and Taliban will yield a reduction in violence. We — along with the rest of the world — learned of this development when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted about it on Friday evening.
But for millions of Afghans like me, a reduction in violence is not enough. According to President Ashraf Ghani, 20 terror groups are currently active in Afghanistan. If the Taliban come to control our country once more, it seems little will prevent any one of these groups from gaining strength and acting on their most evil impulses.… Seguir leyendo »
What just happened in talks between the U.S. and the Taliban?
A critical milestone in efforts to end the Afghan conflict was reached on 21 February, when Taliban and U.S. representatives issued statements confirming that they had reached an agreement providing for gradual U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, in exchange for Taliban promises to sever ties with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups and to enter intra-Afghan negotiations to resolve the world’s deadliest conflict. The statements explained that the U.S. and Taliban would sign the agreement on 29 February in Doha, Qatar – where negotiations have been conducted for over a year – contingent on the successful completion of a seven-day period of “reduction in violence”, which is meant to begin on 22 February.… Seguir leyendo »
When our representatives started negotiating with the United States in 2018, our confidence that the talks would yield results was close to zero. We did not trust American intentions after 18 years of war and several previous attempts at negotiation that had proved futile.
Nevertheless, we decided to try once more. The long war has exacted a terrible cost from everyone. We thought it unwise to dismiss any potential opportunity for peace no matter how meager the prospects of its success. For more than four decades, precious Afghan lives have been lost every day. Everyone has lost somebody they loved. Everyone is tired of war.… Seguir leyendo »
The talks between the United States and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, which were abruptly canceled by President Trump in September, are back on track. After several months of diplomatic regrouping, American and Taliban negotiators are once again on the verge of sealing a deal.
The negotiators haven’t revised the basic transaction they set out last August — an American commitment to withdraw troops from Afghanistan for a Taliban promise not to allow the country to be used by transnational terrorists. Rather, they have added sweeteners to the bargain: As a Taliban concession, a seven-day “reduction in violence” before the United States will sign the deal, possibly followed by further steps to keep violence down, and the release of prisoners demanded by the insurgents.… Seguir leyendo »
On Saturday, a holiday commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, people here awaited the announcement of an agreement between the United States and the Taliban on the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Skepticism here about what comes next pales in comparison with the certainty that continued war will fail.
This agreement can start a process that is the best chance to end Afghanistan’s 40-year war. It meets the core demands of the original antagonists of that war’s latest stage: the withdrawal of U.S. troops for the Taliban and guarantees against harboring terrorists for the United States. Next would come negotiations between the supporters of the Afghan Islamic republic and the Taliban on conditions to end their war, even as the battle against global terrorists continues.… Seguir leyendo »
I took command of the United States Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment two months before the Sept. 11 attacks. Not long after, the regiment deployed to Afghanistan as part of the American effort to destroy Al Qaeda and remove the Taliban from power.
In the 18 years since, soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment, a Special Operations light-infantry unit, have always been deployed to Afghanistan. And as others did, I returned many times thereafter. During his Thanksgiving visit to American troops in Afghanistan, President Trump declared that he had reopened peace talks with the Taliban. The president’s announcement is a rare chance to end our longest war.… Seguir leyendo »
Negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban collapsed in September, but there have been signs that they could soon resume, paving the way for crucial intra-Afghan talks. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2019 – Third Update for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to encourage the resumption of these talks and to establish a regular channel to the Taliban.
This commentary is part of our Watch List 2019 – Third Update.
The war in Afghanistan was the world’s deadliest in 2018, and it has stayed that way. Battle deaths thus far in 2019 nearly outnumber the combined toll in Syria and Yemen.… Seguir leyendo »
Late last month, Afghan and U.S. forces targeted Asim Umar, chief of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), at a Taliban compound in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. While the fate of Umar is unknown, several militants were reportedly killed during the operation, including the Taliban’s local explosives expert and Umar’s courier, who transported messages to al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
This development raises serious questions about the Taliban’s promises, made during the now-frozen U.S.-Taliban talks, to break ties with its longtime partner al-Qaeda. It suggests that the American hope of detaching the Taliban from its al-Qaeda allies, before making a deal with the Taliban, is nowhere near to being fulfilled.… Seguir leyendo »
After forty years of war, it can be hard to remember who all your enemies were and why. Fawzia Koofi, a former deputy speaker of the Afghan parliament who has struggled through the tides of rising and falling regimes, recalled the day when her father’s body was brought back to her village. Her father, Abdul Rahman, had also been a member of parliament, and after Afghanistan’s first Communist coup in 1978, led a delegation from his village into the mountains to meet with leaders of the budding armed resistance, the Mujahideen.
Instead of opening a dialogue, Rahman was kidnapped and murdered by the rebels as an alleged agent of the new regime.… Seguir leyendo »
In Deh Naw — my parents’ home village in Logar Province of Afghanistan — makeshift graves and markers for the dead lay scattered amid orchards, in between fields, or atop hills, a testament to the decades of war. Sometimes, the graves are marked by small slabs of stone with a name or a prayer carved onto it, but just as often, the names of the dead went unrecorded, their lives only traded in whispers. Open secrets permeate these graveyards. Buried atrocities from the Soviet occupation, the Afghan civil wars, and the seemingly unending American occupation.
In the past nine months, Afghan and American-led international forces have killed more civilians than all antigovernment forces combined.… Seguir leyendo »
A pesar de las negociaciones de paz en curso entre Estados Unidos y los talibanes, el sangriento conflicto en Afganistán sigue cobrándose muchísimas vidas entre la población del país. El reciente ataque suicida perpetrado por la rama Khorasan de Estado Islámico (IS-K) en una boda en Kabul, qua arrojó más de 60 muertos y cerca de 200 heridos, es un recordatorio claro de la mala situación de seguridad que rige en Afganistán. También muestra que los talibanes no son la única oposición armada que alimenta el conflicto. Por ende, es poco probable que un pacto de paz entre Estados Unidos y los talibanes traiga algún respiro.… Seguir leyendo »
My life story might be summed up like this: I’ve travelled from one of the worst countries in the world for women to one of the best countries. I am an Afghan refugee in Norway. Adaptation is a process, and comparing these two countries would be totally unfair but I would like to share my insights into what it feels like to be an independent woman in both countries.
As I write, I find myself on the shores of the Skagerrak strait in southern Norway. I’m on a typical cabin holiday, sitting by the water and feeling the fresh breeze playing with my curly, crazy hair at six in the morning.… Seguir leyendo »
At the military headquarters here where commanders oversee America’s longest war, an official explains in one sentence the U.S.-led coalition’s bottom-line objective: “Peace is a situation where we can leave, and we don’t have to come back.”
But how will the United States move toward this endgame, as U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad nears conclusion of his secret peace negotiations with the Taliban jihadists that America has been fighting for 18 years? Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is said to have complained late last week that a draft of Khalilzad’s agreement contains “mere promises”from the Taliban and major concessions by the United States, according to a knowledgeable Afghan source who talked recently with Ghani.… Seguir leyendo »