Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan, is attempting to accelerate peace negotiations with the Taliban because top government officials believe Trump will soon end the U.S. military’s role there, according to NBC, which cited unnamed current and former U.S. officials.
As of Wednesday, the U.S. troops in Afghanistan have not been provided a time line for much longer their mission will last, said Army Maj. Bariki Mallya, a spokesman for Operation Resolute Support.
But that could change.
“Both the State Department and the Defense Department are acting like a drawdown is going to come sooner rather than later,” Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Task & Purpose.
Since the Taliban are only interested in evicting the U.S. from Afghanistan so they can reconquer the entire country, the war has been decided in their favor, Joscelyn said.
“We lost,” he said. “They won. This means that we lost the original 9/11 war. The negotiations are desperate, trying to save some face on the way to give us the appearance of leaving without losing, but the reality is that it is a loss.”
In this June 16, 2018 photo, Taliban fighters greet residents in the Surkhroad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan.Associated Press photo/Rahmat Gul.
To underscore his point, Joscelyn pointed to the Taliban’s response to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s most recent offer for peace talks, in which they claim that any talks with the Afghan government would be “a waste of time.”
The Islamic Emirate, as a representative of the valiant Mujahid Afghan nation and as a sovereign entity, is fighting and negotiating with the American invades for the success of Jihad,” the statement from Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says.
For right now, the U.S. military’s mission to Afghanistan has not changed, said Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Koné Faulkner.
“We remain committed to a conditions-based strategy and we stand by the Afghan government as it seeks a political settlement to ending the war. Any follow-on questions on the president's future intentions need to be directed to the White House.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment from Task & Purpose.
Defense Secretary James Mattis gave reporters on an optimistic appraisal of the peace process in Afghanistan, saying it is “picking up momentum.”
“We are going to do our level best to protect the Afghan people,” Mattis said. “The largest coalition in modern history to fight a war – under NATO 41 nations – and their devotion is to ending the war and protecting the Afghan people.
“It would be nice if the Taliban would get aligned with the reconciliation efforts and stop murdering their own people. But yeah, we’ll keep at it.”
First, America had to grapple with the 'storm Area 51' raid. Now black helicopters are hovering ominously over Washington, D.C.
Bloomberg's Tony Capaccio
first reported on Monday that the Army has requested $1.55 million for a classified mission involving 10 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and a “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility" at Fort Belvoir, Va.
In a not-so-veiled threat to the Taliban, President Donald Trump argued on Monday the United States has the capacity to bring a swift end to the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan, but he is seeking a different solution to avoid killing "10 million people."
"I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth," Trump said on Monday at the White House. "It would be gone. It would be over in – literally in 10 days. And I don't want to do that. I don't want to go that route."
The seizure of a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is the latest example of how tensions between the U.S. and Iran have spilled into one of the world's most strategic and vital waterways for oil. Since May, Iran has been accused of harassing and attacking oil tankers in the strait.
As the British government continues to investigate Friday's seizure, experts worry that it raises the potential of a military clash. However, they also say it offers a lens into Iran's strategy toward the U.S.
Here is a look at what's been happening and why the Strait of Hormuz matters.