Taliban claims that US is violating terms of recent peace deal

Posted Apr 6, 2020 by Ken Hanly
The Afghan Taliban have issued an announcement warning that the US-Taliban peace deal is now close to the breaking point after weeks of violations by the US. In particular, they noted that the Afghan government had not met the terms of the prisoner swap.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (C) holds hands with vice-presidents Amrullah Saleh (L) and Sarwar Dan...
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (C) holds hands with vice-presidents Amrullah Saleh (L) and Sarwar Danish (R) during his inauguration ceremony, minutes before his rival and former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah also declared himself president
The prisoner swap
The agreement between the US and the Taliban signed the end of February included a prisoner swap of 5,000 Taliban prisoners for 1,000 imprisoned by the Taliban. This swap was intended as a confidence-building measure to encourage talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Instead, it sabotaged any talks in that the Afghan government refused to go through with the swap. The Taliban claimed that since the swap was not completed they were justified in resuming attacks on the Afghan government. They did not attack foreign forces. However, when US forces came to the defense of the Afghan government when the Taliban attacks there were clashes with US troops again.
The Taliban complaints
While the major Taliban complaint is that the prisoner swap has not been honored there are others as well. The Taliban complain they have been attacked by the US even in non-combat areas. They also say that there are operations of Afghan and US forces in civilian areas and that there have been airstrikes on civilian areas and also on Taliban members in areas where there is no fighting. The Taliban claim violations in numerous areas including: Helmand, Kandahar, Farah, Kunduz, Nangarhar, and many others.
The US position
US forces spokesperson in Afghanistan Col. Sonny Legett responded to the Taliban statement in a tweet: “The Taliban must reduce violence. A reduction in violence is the will of the Afghan people and necessary to allow the political process to work toward a settlement suitable for all Afghans. We once again call on all parties to focus their efforts on the global pandemic of COVID-19. USFOR-A has upheld, and continues to uphold, the military terms of the US-Taliban agreement; any assertion otherwise is baseless. USFOR-A has been clear- we will defend our ANDSF partners if attacked, in compliance with the agreement.”
The Taliban reduced violence before the agreement but when the prisoner swap was not carried out by the Afghan government resumed attacks on Afghan forces but not foreign troops. The US insists that they were not required to reduce violence. The Taliban insist they had continued to reduce violence except for some attacks on the Afghan government for not carrying out the terms of the prisoner swap. They noted they had not attacked cities or foreign troops at all. There is no sign that the US has put pressure on the Afghan government to carry out the prisoner releases. The US insists nevertheless that the Taliban must reduce violence even more and threatens even more attacks against the Taliban if it does not.
A ceasefire during the COVIC-19 pandemic would be a plus for all Afghans but it seems as if there is too much distrust between the two sides for any such development. The Afghan National Security Council spokesperson Javid Faisal noted that the Afghan government was hosting talks in Kabul on the prisoner swap but insisted that the Taliban had to cease what he called violent provocations. So far the talks have not resulted in an agreement. The Afghan government appears determined to release prisoners in stages and with conditions. The Taliban want it done in one fell swoop. So far it appears that no compromise has been reached although at times things have looked promising.