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Afghanistan negotiations: the Taliban test the weakness of the USA


Shortly before the US election, violence escalates in Afghanistan - and the Taliban are making themselves scarce in the peace talks in Doha. The reaction of the Americans: so far noticeably cautious.

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On the run again: residents of Helmand province are getting to safety from the attacks by the Taliban

Photo: - / AFP

It is the toughest offensive by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan since the peace agreement with the USA in February: Islamist fighters overran the police posts in Helmand last week in the suburbs of the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, which were posted there to secure the entrances and exits to the city .  

They chased the residents.

Many people were injured and an as yet unknown number of citizens were killed.

Thousands of residents fled the city center and the surrounding districts on tractors, motorcycles and horses.

The fighting is still going on. 

Helmand's governor Yasin Khan reported to the broadcaster "Tolo" that the attack on his city was possible because the local Taliban were hiding international terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba from Pakistan and Jaish-e-Mohammed ("Mohammed's Army") granted.

He said the foreign extremists supported the Taliban in their struggle. 

In the peace agreement with Washington, the Taliban committed to keep foreign terrorists out of Afghanistan in future.

They also agreed to reduce violence.

At the same time, the Islamists in Doha are holding peace negotiations with the Kabul government.

How does this all come together?  

Obviously, the Taliban are testing how the Americans will react to the new aggression.

Do they intervene when the Islamists conquer new territories or not?

They are calculating coolly: a good two weeks before the US presidential election, news of a failed agreement with the Afghan Taliban is unlikely to be welcome in Washington.  

The US commander in Kabul, General Austin S. Miller, had ordered a few targeted air strikes.

He warned the Taliban to stop the "offensive activities" in Helmand.

But that's it.

Zalmai Khalilzad, US President Donald Trump's negotiator in Doha, who is supposed to reconcile the Kabul government and the Taliban, was at least "concerned" about the attack on the provincial capital.

He sees the "peace endangered".  

A new terror alliance?

"What peace?" Ask the Afghans.

Last week, the Taliban carried out attacks in 20 of the country's 34 provinces.

According to the local governor, Zakaria Sawda, 400 foreign terrorist fighters have holed up in Badakschan, a northern province.

If the information about a new alliance between the Afghan Taliban and international terrorists turns out to be correct, it would mean the end of the US-Taliban deal.

However, nothing came from Washington about the possible consequences. 

The Taliban had never really gained a foothold in the mountainous region of Badakshan.

However, the province is strategically important, it is directly connected to China and Tajikistan.

"The foreign terrorist forces are supporting the Taliban to gain access to these countries," explains Abdullah Nazari, a member of the Badakshan provincial council.  

The Taliban did not attend the negotiations

In Doha, on the other hand, the Taliban negotiators simply did not appear for negotiations for over ten days until last Wednesday - despite an invitation from the other side.

In terms of content, the two sides have so far come no closer to one another.

The Taliban acted as if the government in Kabul had surrendered and one only had to organize the conditions for their submission, said a participant in SPIEGEL.

As long as the violence continues, Afghans' hope of a result in Doha will diminish.

The people are experiencing that the Americans are no longer working hard, neither for them nor to defend the agreement between Washington and the Taliban.

And the government in Kabul is not strong enough to protect its citizens.  

The message of the Islamists is clear when the US leaves: in the end, it remains as the strongest force. 

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Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2020-10-16

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