November 30, 2021

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Zalmay Khalilzad Battles Critics in U.S. and Afghanistan

Zalmay Khalilzad Battles Critics in U.S. and Afghanistan

The battle ended on Mr. Khalilzad’s watch, however not on the phrases he had hoped. As an alternative of the power-sharing authorities he imagined may restrain the Taliban, the militant group has assumed whole management over the nation, which is now going through financial collapse and famine.

“Zal emerges from this as a fairly tragic determine,” mentioned Eric S. Edelman, a former nationwide safety official who labored with Mr. Khalilzad below Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

As colleagues on the Pentagon within the late Nineteen Eighties, Mr. Edelman and Mr. Khalilzad helped drive U.S. coverage in assist of mujahedeen fighters in Afghanistan resisting Soviet occupiers. In the course of the Bush administration, they once more backed resistance fighters, who this time have been battling the Taliban as the US invaded in 2001.

“He did so much to create a contemporary, post-Taliban unbiased state,” Mr. Edelman mentioned of Mr. Khalilzad. “After which to be partly the handmaiden of its demise — I don’t know how one can see that as apart from tragic.”

Mr. Khalilzad had been out of presidency for years when, throughout the 2016 presidential marketing campaign, he launched Mr. Trump for a overseas coverage speech hosted by a assume tank with which he was affiliated. A lifelong Republican, Mr. Khalilzad didn’t endorse Mr. Trump, noting his “provocative views.” However the introduction earned him good will in Mr. Trump’s inside circle.

Then, in 2018, Mr. Khalilzad advised officers within the Trump administration that Taliban representatives have been all in favour of speaking a few peace settlement. That September, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appointed him envoy for “the singular mission” of “creating the alternatives to get the Afghans and the Taliban to come back to a reconciliation.”

In apply, nevertheless, the talks targeted on the phrases of the U.S. withdrawal that Mr. Trump sought. Eighteen months and lots of of hours of bartering in Doha, the Qatari capital, produced an agreement in February 2020 below which the US agreed to withdraw all its troops and the Taliban promised to halt assaults on American forces and by no means harbor terrorist teams.

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