AFGHANISTAN. Herat: Around four days after Joe Biden’s swore-in ceremony as the 46th President of the United States, speculations about his policy toward the Afghanistan peace process have been deeper in Afghanistan. Biden’s administration has reportedly come up with a new approach toward the peace talks and its presence in Afghanistan. This decision is a sigh of relief for the Afghanistan government.
In a statement, the US Department of State said that their National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has spoken with the National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib of Afghanistan via a phone call. According to the reports, the call was regarding the U.S. commitment to the U.S. – Afghan partnership and peace for all the people of Afghanistan.
“Mr. Sullivan underscored that the U.S. will support the peace process with a robust and regional diplomatic effort, which will aim to help the two sides achieve a durable and just political settlement and permanent ceasefire.” the statement said.
Sullivan also added that America wants all the Afghan leaders to embrace this historic opportunity for peace and stability.
Meanwhile, the National Security Advisors have discussed the United States’ support for protecting the extraordinary gains made by Afghan women, girls, and minority groups as part of the peace process.
Reviewing Trump’s US-Taliban deal
“Mr. Sullivan also made clear the United States’ intention to review the February 2020 U.S.-Taliban agreement, including to assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan, and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.” The US Department of State said.
The ‘February 2020 agreement’ deal assured that ties between the Taliban and other insurgents groups were cut off in return to a full and gradual foreign troops withdrawal ending by May. However, it is still unclear that after withdrawing the deal, whether Biden’s administration will withdraw its entire troop or not.
Anthony Blinken, Joe Biden’s hearing pick for Secretary of State has reiterated Biden’s commitment to ending the US longest war in Afghanistan. Blinken said that he had not yet been briefed on the US-Taliban agreement in a detailed way. “We want to end this so-called forever war,” he added.
Afghan officials welcomes the review
Senior Afghan officials have welcomed the Biden administration’s decision to review whether the Taliban have reduced attacks in Afghanistan under the February 2020 agreement. Afghanistan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib tweeted that during the call the two sides “Agreed to work toward a permanent ceasefire and a just and durable peace in the country.”
“The agreement so far did not deliver the desired goal of ending Taliban’s violence and bringing a ceasefire desired by the Afghans,” Sediq Sediqqi, Deputy Interior Minister and former spokesman to President Ashraf Ghani said on Twitter. “The Taliban did not live up to its commitments.”
In response to the deal, Taliban spokesman Dr. Mohammad Naeem said, “We ensure them [US] from our side that we are committed to the commitments made in the agreement and want the same from the other side.”
The group told BBC News in an interview that “If the foreign troops do not withdraw by spring, as agreed by the Trump administration, they will resume attacks on the international forces.”
Deadly attacks on high-profile figures and targeted killings have surged in recent months, particularly in Kabul where several journalists, activists, judges, and politicians have been murdered. Afghan and US officials have blamed the group for the murders. However, the Taliban has denied responsibility for these killings.
Keeping Trump’s envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in place
Quoting three sources, CNN reported on Saturday that the Biden administration will keep Zalmay Khalilzad, Trump’s top envoy for Afghanistan peace and reconciliation with the Taliban in place for now.
Khalilzad has been the US special envoy for the Afghan peace talks with the Taliban since the kick-off of the peace talks for the first time. Now, after two years he has signed an agreement between the US and the Taliban in February 2020 leading to intra-Afghan peace talks for the first time in September 2020.
It is expected the re-evaluation by Biden’s administration will lead “To the demand of the Afghan people, which is an immediate stop to violence and achieving permanent peace”, Abdullah Khenjani said in a video statement Saturday.