President Donald Trump’s weekend tweet canceling secret meetings at Camp David with the Taliban and Afghan leaders just days before the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks is the latest example of a commander in chief willing to take a big risk in pursuit of a foreign policy victory only to see it dashed. What had seemed like an imminent deal to end the war has unraveled, with Trump and the Taliban blaming each other for the collapse of nearly a year of U.S.-Taliban negotiations in Doha, Qatar. The insurgents are promising more bloodshed. The Afghan government remains mostly on the sidelines of the U.S. effort to end America’s longest war. And as Trump’s reelection campaign heats up, his quest to withdraw the remaining 14,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan remains unfulfilled — so far. Trump said he axed the Camp David meetings and called off negotiations because of a recent Taliban bombing near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul that killed a U.S. service member, even though nine other Americans have died since June 25 in Taliban-orchestrated violence. But the deal started unraveling days earlier after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani postponed his trip to Washington and the Taliban refused to travel to the U.S. before a deal was actually signed, according to a former senior Afghan official. Trump’s secret plan for high-level meetings at the presidential retreat in Maryland resembled other bold, unorthodox foreign policy initiatives — with North Korea, China and Iran — that the president has pursued that have
America’s longest war has come full circle. The United States began bombing Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to root out al-Qaida fighters harbored by the Taliban. Now, more than 18 years later, preventing Afghanistan from being a launching pad for more attacks on America is at the heart of ongoing U.S. talks with the Taliban. President Donald Trump’s envoy at the negotiating table says he’s satisfied with the Taliban’s commitment to prevent international terrorist organizations from using Afghanistan as a base to plot global attacks. There’s even talk that a negotiated settlement might result in the Taliban joining the U.S. to fight Islamic State militants, rivals whose footprint is growing in mountainous northern Afghanistan. “The world needs to be sure that Afghanistan will not be a threat to the international community,” said the envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, who was born in Afghanistan and is a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. “We are satisfied with the commitment that we have received (from the Taliban) on counterterrorism.” Not everyone is convinced. Some Afghans worry that Trump’s desire to pull American troops from Afghanistan will override doubts about the Taliban’s sincerity. Early in the talks, Hamdullah Mohib, national security adviser to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, said counting on the Taliban to control other militants could be like “having cats guard the milk.” Rep. Michael Waltz, who did multiple combat tours in Afghanistan as a U.S. special forces officer, said he’s happy to see the Taliban are negotiating but does not see
“The Islamic Emirate wants peace but the first step is to remove obstacles to peace and end the occupation of Afghanistan,” Mullah Baradar Akhund said, appearing openly on television in what appeared to be a calculated move to establish his legitimacy as one of the main public faces of the Taliban.
“It’s obvious that the situation in Afghanistan is not improving, that the threat is growing and that the ground is ripe for radical Islamists or followers and participants of the Islamic State project,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, a foreign policy expert close to the Kremlin who edits the Russia in Global Affairs journal.
“The attack carried out by a bodyguard of the governor happened moments after the meeting finished, as they were leaving the compound,” Afghanistan Army chief of staff General Mohammad Sharif Yaftali told reporters.
After a meeting chaired by President Ashraf Ghani, “a high-ranking delegation headed by the NDS chief has been deployed to Kandahar to control the situation”, Yaftali added.