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Pompeo is Declining to Sign Risky Afghan Peace Deal, TIME

Pompeo is Declining to Sign Afghan Peace Deal: TIME

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is declining to sign the US-Taliban deal, TIME quoted senior US, Afghan and European officials in a report on Wednesday.
The report claimed that the deal doesn’t ensure several crucial things. It doesn’t guarantee the continued presence of US counterterrorism forces to battle al Qaeda, the survival of the pro-US government in Kabul, or even an end to the fighting in Afghanistan.
“No one speaks with certainty. None,” said an Afghan official taking part in briefings on the deal with Khalilzad. “It is all based on hope. There is no trust. There is no history of trust. There is no evidence of honesty and sincerity from the Taliban,” and intercepted communications “show that they think they have fooled the US while the US believes that should the Taliban cheat, they will pay a hefty price.”
TIME said that the uncertainties in the deal may be the reason Pompeo declined to put his name on the deal.
Taliban asked for Pompeo to sign an agreement with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the official name of the government founded by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 1996, four US, Afghan and European officials familiar with the discussions are quoted by TIME. Having the Secretary of State sign such a document would amount to de facto recognition of Taliban as a legitimate political entity, and he declined to do so, the Afghan officials were quoted.
Pompeo’s office declined to comment before publication of the story. After it was published, Pompeo said through a spokesperson that he might sign if Trump and all parties struck a deal. “There is no agreement to sign yet. If and when there is an agreement that is approved by all parties, including President Trump and if the Secretary is the appropriate signatory, he will sign it,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus emailed TIME Wednesday evening.
There are two alternatives. Khalilzad himself may sign it. Or the US and the Taliban may simply issue a joint statement, supported in turn by the US-backed government in Kabul and a number of other countries, including Japan, Russia and China, two Afghan sources were quoted by TIME.
It further added that this diplomatic sleight of hand might solve the signature problem, but it won’t do much to address the core challenges facing those who want to give peace in Afghanistan a chance after four decades of war. As it stands, the agreement would set the stage for the withdrawal of most American forces by the end of November 2020 if the Taliban do three things: open negotiations with the US-backed Afghan government; reduce violence near areas US forces control; and keep foreign militants out of the areas they control, according to current and former US, Afghan and European officials, who all spoke anonymously to describe the sensitive and fractious deliberations.
The Time report also said that US military and intelligence officers and diplomats who have served in Afghanistan worry that once a withdrawal is underway, it will be irreversible, given Trump’s promise to end the US involvement in the war there, the fast-approaching 2020 US elections and the absence of public support for the war. The price of peace, they fear, might include reversing much of the hard-won progress towards building a stable country over nearly two decades of war. These officials fear a roll back of civil, human and women’s rights in Afghanistan; a weakening of the national, regional and local governments; the deterioration of anti-Taliban military and law enforcement forces; and a rise in corruption.
(Sahar News)

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