- Before arriving in Qatar, Pompeo made a surprise visit to Kabul to pressure Afghan political leaders to overcome their differences.
- President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah cannot agree who won September's presidential election.
- While the Taliban have stopped terrorist attacks in the cities, the State Department finds continued battlefield violence "unacceptable."
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Qatar to meet with Taliban leaders, for the first time since the signing of the historic ceasefire agreement with the fundamentalist group and perpetrator of terrorist attacks. Pompeo will “meet with Taliban officials, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, co-founder of the Taliban movement and its main negotiator, to ask them to continue to respect the agreement signed last month.”
Before arriving in Qatar, Pompeo made a surprise visit to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, to pressure Afghan political leaders to overcome their differences and establish a united government capable of initiating peace negotiations with the Taliban. According to various international media outlets, Pompeo left Afghanistan without saying whether he was able to convince them.
At a time when world leaders are suspending official travel, given the pandemic context of covid-19, caused by the new coronavirus, Pompeo went to Kabul to issue an ultimatum to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his main opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, who still cannot agree on who was elected in the September presidential election. Both of them held separate inauguration ceremonies in separate locations earlier this month.
Pompeo met both Ghani and Abdullah, first separately, then together later. According to Afghan media reports, Pompeo reportedly gave a deadline of Tuesday for the two leaders to reach a compromise.
On 29 February, the United States and Taliban signed an agreement in Doha considered “historic.” It provides for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, including Americans, over the next 14 months, in exchange for peace guarantees. Already after the peace agreement, the State Department found that while the Taliban have stopped the attacks against the coalition forces led by Washington and the Afghan cities, violence on the battlefield remains intense and “unacceptable.”
Still, the United States has begun to withdraw troops, as set out in the agreement. In the first phase, Washington will reduce the military contingent from 13,000 to 8,600 troops. If the Taliban maintain their pledges to deny refuge to terrorists in Afghanistan, Washington will withdraw the remaining troops in 14 months, according to the agreement.
When it was signed, the agreement was seen as the best opportunity for Afghanistan to find peace after 40 years of war. On the other hand, the agreement represents a way out for the United States, after almost 19 years of war. The U.S. War in Afghanistan is the longest armed conflict in American history.
The Taliban or Taleban, who refer to themselves as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement and military organization in Afghanistan currently waging war within that country. Since 2016, the Taliban’s leader is Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada.