Nine former US ambassadors on Tuesday warned that Afghanistan against Taliban’s victory if President Donald Trump withdraws all American forces before President Ghani’s administration and the Taliban conclude a peace settlement.
“A major troop withdrawal must be contingent on a final peace,” the nine former diplomats wrote on the website of the Atlantic Council, a think tank. “The initial US drawdown should not go so far or so fast that the Taliban believe they can achieve military victory.”
The group of nine envoys involved five former ambassadors to Kabul, a former special envoy to Afghanistan and a former deputy secretary of State.
They issued their warning a day after US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad said the US and the Taliban have agreed on the withdrawal of nearly 5,000 American troops from Afghanistan from five bases in 135 days. They also wrote that maintaining a major UStroop presence would have “a critical influence on the chances for successful peace negotiations”.
The withdrawal will be followed by the Taliban’s commitment to preventing their decades-long ally, al Qaeda, or other extremists from using the country as a haven for new attacks.
“It is not clear whether peace is possible. The Taliban have made no clear statements about the conditions they would accept for a peaceful settlement with their fellow Afghans, nor do they have a track record of working with other political forces,” they said.
“There is an outcome far worse than the status quo, namely a return to the total civil war that consumed Afghanistan as badly as the war with the Russians and something that could follow a breakdown in negotiations if we remove too much support from theAfghan state, they wrote.
A new civil war “could prove catastrophic for US national security” as it likely would see the Taliban maintain their alliance with al Qaeda and allow Daesh’s growing local affiliate” to further expand, they said.