WASHINGTON: The United States has said that it no longer believes the Taliban are capable of implementing the pledges they made in Doha, Qatar, while signing a peace agreement with American negotiators.

At a Tuesday afternoon news briefing in Washington, State Department Spokesman Ned Price said that Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul “reinforces the idea that the Taliban heretofore has not been willing or able to comply with the commitments it’s made to its own people.”

In February 2020, the United States and the Taliban signed a peace agreement in Doha, Qatar, to bring an end to the 2001–2021 war in Afghanistan. The agreement ultimately led to the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan on Aug 15, 2021.

“The fact that senior members of the Haqqani Taliban Network were witting off Ayman al Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul and actively sheltered him, that of course has featured into our thinking,” Mr. Price said. “We’re still considering the implications of that.”

At the State Department briefing, a journalist pointed out that on July 27, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West met a Taliban delegation in Tashkent.

Although by then, the US knew that Zawahiri was living in Kabul, under Taliban’s protection.

Mr. Price said that was the last face-to-face engagement that the United States has had with the Taliban.

“You can understand, I think, the secrecy with which those impending plans were held within the US government. It’s not something that we discussed with the Taliban, of course, beforehand,” Mr Price said.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2022

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