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Editorial: Trump siding with the Taliban?

As experts state, the type of a future government and human rights would prove to be the key sticking points between the negotiating teams of the Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban. However, official discussions to elucidate that that’s the case haven’t even happened yet. It’s been a week since the intra-Afghan talks were launched but technical teams of the negotiating sides haven’t been able to finalize the technicalities related to procedures and schedules of the negotiations; thus, the key discussions are yet to be conferred on. In the meantime, the Taliban keep ignoring calls from stakeholders in the Afghan peace process, saying they will not agree to a ceasefire unless the main cause of the war is discussed. An interview quoting Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the insurgent group had been struggling over the past 19 years for an Islamic system of governance and an end to Afghanistan’s supposed occupation. Meanwhile, the US President Donald Trump has recently described the group as ‘tough’ and ‘smart’ while promising to reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan to less than 4,000 in the next couple of weeks. His remarks come hard on the heels of H.R. McMaster’s, former US national security adviser, who accused Trump of partnering with the Taliban against the Afghan government ahead of this month’s peace negotiations in Doha. According to him, withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and partnering with the Taliban had made the United States less safe. These are the developments and remarks that could be deemed as ‘brazen extrication’ from Afghanistan. It’s indeed surprising that the president of a powerful country calls the Taliban ‘tough’ and ‘smart’ in the wake of fighting the group for the past two decades. The US makes it known that they have faced a de facto defeat and the constant repetition of withdrawing the troops is its sign. Although the intra-Afghan talks ongoing in Doha is a unique opportunity to bring peace to Afghanistan, the US and international partners shouldn’t portray it as merely an Afghan war – even though it’s been rendered so since the US-Taliban peace deal. The war had started since the US and coalition troops’ invasion and now that the US is seemingly leaving the country, it’s only reasonable that the war should come to an end. Nevertheless, remarks that indicate the US is favoring the Taliban over the Afghan government is only going to stoke the differences and hostilities. Siding with one side for a while and then the other could be one of the reasons for the continuation of the war in Afghanistan and even the peace talks would prove futile to bring about the outcomes expected of it.

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