So much for the ‘historic’ US deal with the Taliban to end the Afghan war and eventually bring the troops home as it’s already unraveled, with the initial partial ceasefire lasting a little over a week. The peace deal was only signed Saturday in Doha between US State Department and Taliban representatives.
With the ink barely dry, the AFP reports Monday: “The Taliban said Monday they were resuming offensive operations against Afghan security forces, ending the partial truce that preceded the signing of a deal between the insurgents and Washington.”
“The reduction in violence… has ended now and our operations will continue as normal,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced.
Immediately on the heels of of the declaration Afghan national police reported three killed and 11 injured in a blast in the east of the country.
However, the Afghan defense ministry downplayed the truce’s total unraveling, saying it was “checking to see if (the truce) had ended”. The defense ministry statement added, “We have not had any reports of any big attacks in the country yet.”
Months in the works, the controversial deal that saw Washington engage with terrorists while desperately wanting to bring an end to the eighteen-year long occupation would have ultimately seen all American troops out of Afghanistan within 14 months.
Only on Sunday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo predicted a “rocky and bumpy” path, but at this point it appears there’s no path at all.
Direct talks between Taliban and Afghan officials were to begin March 10, considered among the biggest hurdles to the truce plan, given disagreements over mutual release of prisoners and other details.
The whole thing appears to have unraveled after Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid again demanded the government release some 5,000 Taliban prisoners held by the Kabul government.
But Afghan President appeared to pour cold water on this key element of the deal, responding:
“There is no commitment to releasing 5,000 prisoners. This is the right and the self-will of the people of Afghanistan. It could be included in the agenda of the intra-Afghan talks, but cannot be a prerequisite for talks,” said Ghani.
This seems to be driving the Taliban’s non-commitment to the truce, even after all the hype in Western media. It increasingly appear the headlines never matched the reality in the first place, considering how it unraveled pretty much immediately upon being signed with Washington.