In U.S. pursuit of peace talks, risky rift opens with Afghan chief – Reuters
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In U.S. pursuit of peace talks, risky rift opens with Afghan chief – Reuters

WASHINGTON/KABUL (Reuters) – Washington’s relationship with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani appears more and more susceptible to everlasting ruin, the consequence of a U.S. policy shift that has to this level excluded his government from talks with the Taliban and of his grasp dedication to retain strength and arrange peace efforts himself.

FILE PHOTO: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks throughout a recordsdata convention in Kabul, Afghanistan July 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail/File Photo

The feud threatens to undermine the already narrow chances for a peace accord that President Donald Trump hopes would discontinue The US’s longest battle.

Contemporary and ancient U.S. officers elaborate Reuters they factor in Ghani is positioning himself to presumably be a spoiler in calm-fragile negotiations, excited that the Afghan government has been kept out of talks and shrinking referring to the implications for his presidency.

Nonetheless from Ghani’s viewpoint, the negotiations themselves, led by U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, feel treasure a non-public betrayal and a capitulation by the United States that can even return the Taliban to strength, Afghan officers stammer.

“Khalilzad desires to narrate that he is the champion of peace and President Ghani does now not need to be the villain. The president believes he is being betrayed,” an Afghan government authentic talked about.

The rising rift between Kabul and Washington over the peace negotiations erupted in public peek on March 14 when Ghani’s national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, slammed Khalilzad and accused the Afghan-born feeble U.S. diplomat of presumably making an strive to favor the Afghan presidency for himself.

“(Ghani’s shrinking) there can even very successfully be some settlement for an period in-between government and he’ll be on the outdoor having a look in,” talked about one U.S. authentic, speaking on situation of anonymity.

The authentic added that Washington need to predict Ghani will act treasure a politician in an election year, asserting: “We shouldn’t predict that Ghani goes to be Ghani the statesman, where he says: ‘The particular thing would per chance be for me to step apart’.”

The blow-up over Mohib’s assault has had serious repercussions. The next day, the Say Division decreed that U.S. officers need to have not any additional contact with Mohib and his presence at a assembly on Monday between Ghani and NATO diplomats prompted the U.S. delegation to toddle out of the presidential palace, Afghan sources talked about on situation of anonymity. The Say Division did now not reply to a request for comment.

The discord carries echoes of tensions under Ghani’s predecessor, Hamid Karzai, who grew to became an intense critic of the United States throughout his thirteen years in strength.

Nonetheless the acrimony is calm largely in the attend of closed doors. Ghani depends on U.S. toughen, as Afghanistan’s predominant financial, diplomatic and security backer, and there are indicators that he’ll transfer to restrict the fallout on ties.

In a nod to Washington’s outrage over Mohib’s remarks, Ghani is targeted on changing Mohib with the Afghan envoy to London, a second Afghan authentic talked about.

Ghani’s build of business did now not straight comment.

LATEST ROUND DISAPPOINTS GHANI

Since his 2016 election campaign, Trump has made the case to complete the Afghan struggle that began in 2001 and has tied the chance of troop drawdowns in Afghanistan to success in peace talks. Nonetheless it is unclear if Trump will acquire a deal at any price – one thing that Ghani and other Afghans more and more anxiety.

“The president has indicated that he hopes for the acceptable in these peace talks nonetheless he moreover is now not going to acquire a frightening deal,” a senior Trump administration authentic talked about.

The Taliban, which sees Ghani as an Afghan puppet of the United States, has refused to meet with him.

Even supposing the United States had historically balked on the chance of unilateral talks with the Taliban, the Trump administration made a resolution to transfer ahead with them, one thing that feeble U.S. officers sharply criticized.

“By acceding to this Taliban search recordsdata from, we grasp ourselves delegitimized the government we teach to toughen,” Ryan Crocker, ancient U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, wrote in a Washington Publish column, in conjunction with that the U.S. transfer signaled “we were surrendering.”

The second spherical of U.S.-Taliban talks lasting 16 days ended this month in Doha, Qatar, with discussions in conjunction with doable U.S. troop withdrawals and Taliban assurances on counter-terrorism.

Nonetheless these talks disillusioned Ghani, who had hoped Khalilzad would net some development on negotiating a ceasefire for Afghanistan and convincing the Taliban to negotiate with Ghani’s government, loads of Afghan officers talked about.

As a replace, Khalilzad flew to Washington with out such development and with out discussing the necessary gains of the talks with Ghani, which made the Afghan president paranoid, they talked about.

“The two aspects discussed and agreed on points relating them nonetheless it undoubtedly did now not alternate anything for the (Afghan) folks or the government,” the predominant Afghan authentic talked about.

Some most contemporary and ancient U.S. officers are sympathetic to Ghani and think referring to the United States need to net a reach to reassure him – and rapidly.

Acknowledging Kabul’s frustration, the senior Trump administration authentic talked about: “It’s urgent that we convince the Taliban to sit down down down with the Afghan government and other Afghans and snatch in a political route of.”

AFGHAN ELECTION COMPLICATION

The Afghan election is shaping up as a predominant topic for Ghani’s government, with speculation that the poll might per chance now not be held at all if a peace deal is first reached with the Taliban. Delayed twice already, it is now slated for Sept. 28.

One ancient U.S. authentic talked about Ghani hoped that the United States would fail to save an settlement ahead of the vote so the ballotcan transfer ahead.

Ghani “thinks that if the peace route of goes via and the election doesn’t happen, he loses all the pieces,” talked about a ancient senior Afghan authentic.

Slideshow (2 Photos)

With so great in play politically, Ghani is viewed as making an strive to tightly management the route of – one thing consultants anxiety can even exclude opposition parts that would per chance be compulsory for any lasting settlement between the Taliban and Afghan society.

A ancient U.S. authentic talked about Ghani’s controlling persona became one reason Washington long shrinking he can even exhibit to be “more a downside than a attend on the peace route of.”

“It’s now not which ability of his heart isn’t in the trusty build in trying peace in Afghanistan. It’s thanks to his disposition and his controlling nature and his want to cope with it as a lot as more management in a closed circle than is reasonable,” the typical authentic talked about.

Extra reporting by Idrees Ali in WASHINGTON, Rupam Jain in KABUL and James MacKenzie in ISLAMABAD; Modifying by Mary Milliken and James Dalgleish

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March 27, 2019
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