News Analysis: Trump canceling talks could lead to more violence in Afghanistan

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-09 11:40:51|Editor: ZD
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by Abdul Haleem

KABUL, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump in a surprise move cancelled the ongoing peace talks with the Taliban, saying the armed group "probably doesn't have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement" to end the war in Afghanistan.

Trump announced the decision on Saturday following a deadly car bomb attack in Kabul on Thursday that claimed 12 lives including that of a U.S. soldier and injured 42 others, all of whom were Afghan civilians.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming that those killed were foreign forces and Afghan security personnel.

Afghan analysts believe that the cancellation of the talks with the Taliban would lead to more violence in Afghanistan as the armed group has been intensifying operations mostly in the form of deadly suicide bombings.

"The halt in peace negotiations between the United States and the Taliban will no doubt have a direct impact on the security situation in Afghanistan and the warring sides will intensify operations on the battle ground," Ghafar Gardezi, a former professor at the National Military College of the Marshal Fahim National Defense University, told Xinhua on Sunday.

"Taliban would possibly intensify terrorist attacks on cities to put pressure on the U.S. to resume the scraped peace talks," said the expert.

The United States and the Taliban were about to sign an agreement to end the war in Afghanistan and pave the way for the withdrawal of the U.S.-led coalition forces from Afghanistan.

More than a 16,000-strong NATO-led Resolute Support (RS) mission with the majority of them being Americans have been serving in Afghanistan to train, advice and assist Afghan security forces.

The U.S. administration had agreed to withdraw about 5,000 troops within 135 days, from Afghanistan.

Zalmay Khalilzad, head of the U.S. negotiation team, after extensive talks with the Taliban, reached a deal at the end of the ninth round of talks in early September.

He briefed Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in Kabul last week about the details of the deal and met the Taliban again in Doha on Friday.

Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban spokesman for the liaison office in Doha, according to media reports, described Friday's talks as positive and said "good progress" had been made in the meeting.

However, Trump's decision to scrap the talks has caused doubt about the peace process.

The Afghan Presidential Palace in a statement released here Sunday, said, "Real peace won't return to Afghanistan unless and until the Taliban halts killings, accepts ceasefire and direct talks with the Afghan government."

The Taliban outfit that has repeatedly refused to hold talks with the Afghan government and intensified activities over the past several months has yet to react to Trump's decision on the peace talks.

"Trump's decision to cancel the peace talks could make the security situation in Afghanistan become more risky. Scraping the talks could be indicative of a failure in diplomacy," political analyst Jawad Rahimi told local broadcaster Tolo News TV on Sunday.