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Op-Ed: US cuts $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan

Two competing presidents cannot agree on a unity government

Pompeo tried to get the two who claim the presidency Ahraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah to form a unity government with a power sharing deal. In 2014 the two were in a similar position but a power-sharing deal was worked out successfully. However, this time around so far there has been no agreement. Both men have had their own inauguration ceremonies.

US Taliban peace deal may be in ever greater jeopardy

US officials were disappointed
by and critical of the meetings even claiming that they dishonored the US and its coalition partners and posed a direct threat to US interests. Pompeo said after the meeting: “The United States deeply regrets that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and former Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have informed Secretary Pompeo that they have been unable to agree on an inclusive government that can meet the challenges of governance, peace, and security, and provide for the health and welfare of Afghan citizens.”

The political impasse may threaten the US Taliban peace deal. At the end of February, the Taliban and US signed a peace deal that included a prisoner swap with the Taliban. However, the Afghan government would not carry out the terms of the swap causing the Taliban to restart attacks on the government. When the US defended the government clashes with the US restarted as well. With the political crisis in the Afghan government there may be even more difficulty in salvaging the peace deal.

US may be pressuring Afghanistan government to follow through on prisoner swap

It is the Afghan government not the Taliban or the US who are sabotaging the peace deal. The US may be using the withdrawal of aid as leverage to force the Afghans to comply with the conditions of the prisoner swap. Officials have already said that further aid could be cut and that the US is doing a full review of its support for the Afghan government.

The Taliban are supposed to start talks with the Afghan government on power sharing as well and this is not happening. The US may have decided that the present Afghan government is a liability and are warning that no Afghan government will get US help unless they help realize US aims.

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