OPINION: The Taliban is sabotaging its own peace deal


Ricky Barker, Columnist

Peace talks or negotiations with the Taliban won’t be effective until they are willing to decrease aggression and violent actions.  President Trump canceling the talks at Camp David was the right idea; the Taliban won’t keep up their end of the deal.

Over the last year, the United States and Taliban leadership have been in tentative negotiations, regarding the withdrawal troops from Afghanistan. 

Afghan-born U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad led the discussion with Taliban leadership. Abdul Ghani Baradur, recently released from Pakistani prison, led the negotiations for the Taliban.

It’s been a slow and rocky process from the beginning. These meetings have been very confidential. The Taliban pushed away the Afghan government from negotiations, refusing to work with a “U.S. puppet.” After eight rounds of talks, they finalized a deal in August. However, as the details were confirmed, the Taliban started to sabotage themselves.

 On Sept. 2, Khalilzad released the details of the plan, which laid out that the U.S. would remove 5,000 troops from Afghanistan, while the Taliban promised they would not use the country as a platform to launch global terror attacks, neither by them nor any other radical group. This plan was tested just a day later.

On Sept. 3, while Khalilzad announced the plan live on a national Afghan news station, a Taliban car bomb exploded in Kabul, killing 16 and wounding more than 100, followed by a gunman opening fire. The attack targeted Green Village, a compound holding international agencies and aid organizations.  

A massive attack on international businesses the night of the announced peace plan, that alone would be troubling. 

But there’s more. On Sept. 5, another Taliban bombing killed 10 civilians, a Romanian officer and a U.S. officer stationed near a NATO checkpoint and the U.S. embassy. Two terrible acts of violence in the same week.

After the second egregious attack from the Taliban, President Trump made the decision to cancel the peace talks at Camp David.

While it may have been a controversial action to some, this was a wise decision. The Taliban believe they can use violence as leverage against the U.S. If they can’t stay passive during peace agreements, what was the likelihood they were ever planning to remain peaceful?

At the very least, canceling these peace talks gives time for recent events to cool down. If the U.S.-Taliban talks are to continue, which they will, the U.S. needs to change its strategy.

Ending the war in Afghanistan is crucial. It’s one of America’s longest engagements with  an untold number of lives and money wasted. But, the plan, as it stands now, will only cause more deaths. There are no visible guarantees on the Taliban side, just frivolous ideas and promises. 

If the U.S. were to leave Afghanistan,  American leaders would need physical evidence of the Taliban downscaling or slowing down its violent actions. If the car bombings show anything, their aggression is just as strong as before. If the U.S. leaves while the iron is still hot, the country will fall into a power struggle and civil war.

It must be said the U.S. has not decreased its aggression much either. In just the 10 days after Trump canceled the peace talks, 1,000 Taliban troops have been killed, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. However, this does not change that the Taliban have to let up before any ceasefire can happen.

Keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan is foolish and sending more troops is definitely not the answer. The U.S.’s only solution is to be tougher in its demands, and in return the Taliban has to bring concrete pledges to the table. If they want to talk disengagement, they have to disengage themselves. It looks like they have no inclination to do so.