Brutal Afghan attacks highlight limitations of US-Taliban deal
KABUL: Two brutal attacks this week laid bare major weaknesses of the US-Taliban troop withdrawal pact: nothing in it obliges the Taliban to prevent such massacres and the Afghan government’s ability to thwart them will only wane as US troops pull out.
The pact is ultimately supposed to promote peace between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which denied carrying out a Kabul attack in which three gunmen disguised as police killed 24 people, including two babies, at a Kabul maternity ward here and a suicide bombing in eastern Afghanistan that killed 32.
The key provisions of the Feb. 29 agreement – to which the Afghan government was not a party – involved a US commitment to reduce its military footprint in Afghanistan to 8,600 by mid-July and, conditions permitting, to zero by May 2021.
In return, the Taliban promised, among other things, not to allow “its members, other individuals or groups, including Al Qaeda, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.”
Technically, Afghanistan is not formally an ally of the United States because they do not have a mutual defence treaty. And the agreement says nothing about attacks on Afghan civilians such as the two that occurred on Tuesday.
“There’s nothing in our peace agreement with the Taliban that would preclude them from killing Afghans,” Democratic US Representative Tom Malinowski, a former top State Department official for human rights, told Reuters. “And of course the moment we’re out, there’s no practical deterrence either,” he added.
US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, architect of the deal here advocated by Republican President Donald Trump, acknowledged it did not bar attacks on Afghans and said it would be best if both sides began talks and efforts to combat such attacks while US forces are still there. – Reuters