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article imageTaliban had agreed to a ceasefire with the US in peace deal

By Ken Hanly     Sep 15, 2019 in Politics
Chief Taliban negotiator Sher Abbas Stanekzai said yesterday that the Taliban agreed to a complete ceasefire that was contingent on the US accepting the recently negotiated Afghan peace deal.
Taliban and US reached a deal in principle
MSN reported four days ago: "President Donald Trump's special envoy for Afghanistan said Monday that the U.S. and the Taliban have reached an agreement "in principle," pending final approval by the president."
Special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said that the draft agreement would see the US withdraw troops from five bases throughout Afghanistan within 135 days providing that the Taliban fulfilled conditions set out in the agreement
Trump rejects the peace agreement
Even though the Taliban had continued attacks during peace negotiations the negotiations progressed well and resulted in the agreement in principle. The US too had continued fighting and increased air attacks during peace negotiations in August as a recent article notes: "As U.S. and Taliban officials talked peace, the U.S. military was accelerating airstrikes in Afghanistan, with the biggest monthly tally of the year carried out in August as the negotiations were in their final stage, a new report shows." Yet, Trump used the Taliban attacks as a reason to withdraw from the talks.
A recent article reports: "US President Donald Trump cancelled peace talks with the Taliban at the weekend after the Taliban killed an American soldiers and 10 other people in capital Kabul. He also called off a meeting with the Taliban political envoys in Camp David."
Other officials have cited the lack of a ceasefire as a reason for the rejection. However, the Taliban did agree to a ceasefire. It could be that the US wanted a ceasefire as well with the Afghan government. Talks with Afghans on power-sharing and no doubt a ceasefire were scheduled for September 23. It is not clear what will happen now Trump has rejected the deal and called off talks with the Taliban.
The Taliban's response
Taliban negotiator Stanekzai said:“The next day when Mr Trump cancelled this negotiations, his Foreign Minister Pompeo admitted his forces killed 1000 Taliban. So if they can kill 1000 of us why we cannot kill one of them or two of them..So this will be our right to defend ourselves. We have to defend our people. We have to defend the innocent people of Afghanistan. Wherever they attack, bomb, wherever they attack, we will have to defend over people."
Stanekzai complained that any time the two sides reached agreement the deal was canceled by the US side. The Taliban appear still keen to bring peace to Afghanistan through negotiations. However, Trump who just recently fired John Bolton a key hawk in his administration is taking a hawkish position so far on the issue. and shows no sign of wanting to end the 18 year old war.
As a recent AFP article reports: "President Donald Trump used 9/11 remembrance commemorations Wednesday to announce an unprecedented escalation of the US military assault on Afghanistan's Taliban -- just days after he wanted to hold peace talks with the insurgents." There is no sign of the dovish Trump whose campaign for president was marked by pledges to remove US troops from Afghanistan.
More about US Taliban relations, Afghan peace deal, Donald trump
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