"U.S. Launches New Afghanistan Initiative Which Is Unlikely To Fly"
Moon of Alabama (March 8, 2021)

The U.S. has an agreement with the Taliban which commits it to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by May 1. Should the U.S. stay longer the Taliban will again start attacking U.S. troops and bases in Afghanistan and the conflict will continue as it did over the last 20 years.

The agreement also foresees peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But President Ashraf Ghani has been dragging his feet with regards to peace talks. He believes that the U.S. will stay in Afghanistan, that he does not have to make concessions and can continue to stay in office. Meanwhile the Afghan army is loosing the war. The Taliban already rule most of the the countryside. They are ready to take the cities which are still under government control as soon as the U.S. pulls out.

The Biden regime does not want to pull out to then immediately see the Taliban win the war. It needs some face saving period of 'peace in Afghanistan' to justify a pull out. It also wants to keep some CIA counter-terrorism force in the country which is something the Taliban are unlikely to allow.

Over the weekend The Biden administration launched a new attempt to create a power sharing agreement for Afghanistan. This would include the Taliban into the current government under President Ghani. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is putting pressure on the Afghan government to agree to that:

The letter (also here) was delivered by U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalizad to President Ghani, his rival Chairman Abdullah Abdullah and to the Taliban.

In it Blinken announced that he would ask the UN to convene the foreign ministers of Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India and the United States to discuss a unified approach for supporting peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan, which supports the Taliban, is likely to reject any inclusion of its arch enemy India into such a process.

Khalizad also delivered a draft of an Afghan Peace Agreement (pdf) which is essentially a new constitution for Afghanistan but with all the elements that created the current failed system. (Writing constitutions for countries which have fundamental internal disagreements is a British and U.S. pasttime which rarely works.) The proposal foresees an interim government with a few Taliban seats in the parliament. It sets out new elections which the Taliban generally reject. The proposal includes the creation of a new High Council for Islamic Jurisprudence to advise the independent judiciary. That is probably the sole good element and the only one the Taliban could agree with.

While Blinken has claimed to have coordinated all this with U.S. allies, the EU special envoy to Afghanistan expressed dismay:

As a third point Blinken will ask the government of Turkey to host a meeting between the Afghan government and the Taliban to finalize a peace agreement. (Turkey, one snarky commentator said, because it has much experience with getting rid of Islamic fundamentalists.)

There are a few additional points in the letter which the Taliban will reject:

President Ghani is furious about Blinken's letter. Other interest groups in the Afghan government also reject it. They think it is a bluff. Unless the U.S. stops the money flow to Kabul and pulls out its troops there is no need for Ghani and others to proceed.

The Taliban will also reject the proposals. They want the U.S. to leave and they feel sure that, after that, they can win the civil war and reinstall their Islamic Emirate. Their backers in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are likewise convinced that there is no need to change course.

The new U.S. proposal is a dead end. It is somewhat astonishing that the State Department could not come up with a better initiative. Then again it's nearly twenty years into this conflict and it still mixes up Afghan nationals and their currency:

Posted by b on March 8, 2021 at 17:28 UTC


Afghanistan is just one more thing to 'undo' from the Trump Administration. Trump tried several times to withdraw from Afghanistan and was thwarted each time by those in the US government who want a permanent footprint in this particular region.

The USA is still in Korea some 65 years after that war, which is officially still ongoing. As an Empire, the USA cannot afford to appear weak to itself or the whole charade of a dysfunctional, broke, criminal enterprise crashes and burns on the petard of imperial hubris. [emphasis added]

Posted by: gottlieb | Mar 8 2021 17:59 utc

If Biden actually announces that the US has (not will, not going to, not thinking about it, not proposing, not considering) withdrawn all US troops from Afghanistan - he will have accomplished something of merit. [emphasis added]

But I expect pigs to fly first.

Posted by: c1ue | Mar 8 2021 18:17 utc

President Ghani should study the career of one of his predecessors, Muhammad Najibullah. He served during the time of Soviet occupation but was driven from power after they left. He ended up being tortured to death, castrated, and hanged from a traffic light pole. The precedent is set.

Posted by: Donnie | Mar 8 2021 22:07 utc | 23

If the Taliban wants to get rid of the US occupation,They only need to concentrate on choking the resupply of occupying forces. target all convoys from the Pakistan border along all the difficult terrain of Afghanistan. No army can survive choking resupply logistics, re Napoleon in Russia.

Attacking and decimating US convoys from Pakistan is key to stopping US presence in Afghanistan.

Posted by: CarlD | Mar 9 2021 0:23 utc | 29

The US is fighting the Taliban who are supported by US allies?

Something is amiss.

Posted by: jiri | Mar 9 2021 2:11 utc | 39