EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The ongoing US-Taliban dialogue is devoid of logic. The mission of the US troops in Afghanistan is still far from complete. Washington must take the Taliban’s jihadist ideology and past record into account. They are not to be trusted.
Optimism is a virtue, but if it is the product of naiveté, it can be a vice. The Trump administration’s Afghan diplomacy seems to suffer from the latter syndrome.
If media reports are anything to go by, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is upbeat following his recent talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar. He claimed on January 27 that the two sides had reached an agreement on the draft of a framework accord. In accordance with this accord, the Taliban would observe a ceasefire, guarantee against the use of Afghan territory by terrorists, and join the table with the current government in Kabul for the country’s better governance. Washington, for its part, would pull its troops out of Afghanistan within 18 months. Khalilzad hopes the Taliban delegation will confer with their leadership and come back to commit to the proposed accord when the Taliban-US dialogue begins its next round in Doha on February 25.