- Trump says intelligence on Russia’s alleged bounties to Taliban never reached his desk
- No contacts on Afghanistan planned due to delays in prisoner exchange process
- Possible use of NATO aircraft to traffic Afghan drugs needs to be investigated
- Russian-American dialogue on Afghanistan irked some political circles in US
Terrorist attacks orchestrated by the radical wing of the Taliban (banned in Russia) have forced the United States to block the dialogue with the movement. However, the strategic vector has not changed. Washington remains committed to reaching an agreement with the Taliban and thus minimizing its military presence in Afghanistan. This is the only possible way out of the long-term civil war. And the current negotiating process failure is only a stage the parties will have to go through.
September 2 witnessed a terrorist attack in Kabul, which killed about 50 people. Conspicuous is the fact that the explosion occurred at the very time a senior American diplomat was paying a visit to the Afghan capital. On September 15 and 17, terrorist attacks took place in the country's northern part, killing dozens of people. It is worthy of note that the Taliban's burst of activity is not an accident at all. An active period of intensive negotiations had been scheduled for September, as a result of which an agreement was planned to be signed. However, another terrorist attacks made the American side cease dialogue with the rebel movement (at least for a while), but the Taliban are still maintaining high-performance activity in Afghanistan, carrying out attacks and sabotage, including in major cities.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the United States will cease its engagement in the negotiation process until the Taliban wind down terrorist activities. "Through these attacks, the Taliban demonstrate blatant disregard for the people and institutions of Afghanistan. For Afghans to truly reconcile, the Taliban must begin to demonstrate a genuine commitment to peace rather than continue the violence and destruction that causes such inordinate harm to the Afghan people and [to] the future of their country," the chief American diplomat said.
The same uncompromising attitude was demonstrated by the US President himself, who said he would not discuss a peace agreement with the Taliban as long as its representatives carry out attacks like those in the Afghan Parwan province and Kabul. "The United States strongly condemns the Taliban's cowardly attacks against the Afghan people. The president has made clear that he will not negotiate a peace agreement while the Taliban continues such attacks," the White House press service stated.
At the same time, a noteworthy detail is that Trump has seriously planned to receive a delegation of the Taliban and official Kabul representatives at Camp David, which would appear no less than a bid for the Nobel peace prize.
In general, the American political machine's fatigue with Afghanistan is obvious. So, September 20 saw Trump endorsing his administration's decision to freeze and cut funds that were allocated to aid Afghanistan. "Due to identified Afghan government corruption and financial mismanagement, the US government is returning approximately $100 million to the US Treasury that was intended for a large energy infrastructure project." In the future Washington intends to "use an off-budget mechanism, given the Afghan government’s inability to transparently manage US government resources," Pompeo said.
The statement issued by the press service of the US diplomatic department, reads that the $60 million aid will also be withheld "due to the government's failure to meet benchmarks for transparency and accountability in public financial management." Apart from that, the Trump administration has announced the suspension of funding the Afghan anti-corruption committee, as it proved "incapable of being a partner in the international effort to build a better future for the Afghan people."
Speaking at United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells said that the US does not want to completely abandon or leave Afghanistan. "We want to have a stable and strong partnership with Afghanistan, with this government," the diplomat said.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan remains an incubator of regional instability. The Taliban are stronger than ever. However, all this pushes America even more to put an end to the Afghan narrative. The American President is only eager to accomplish this war and present it as his foreign policy victory. Trump will be running for a second term, and success in the Afghan campaign could be a good starting point for entering the electoral process, which is right around the corner. For this very reason, the US will not settle for a complete breakdown of dialogue with the Taliban and peace process cessation.
So now we are only dealing with a pause time in the negotiations. Washington could act no otherwise. Terrorist attacks in Afghanistan were all too tragic, with the Taliban openly claiming responsibility on top of that. However, Washington's strategic goal has not changed a bit. The task is to sign agreements with the movement by the end of the year at any cost. A peace treaty with the Taliban is inevitable, and the US is well aware of this.