01/29/2019, 16.09
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Excluding the Afghan government from US-Taliban peace deal is absurd

Donald Trump's envoy and Taliban held talks in Qatar. The US has 14,000 soldiers on the ground, out of 16,000 NATO forces. Italian Defence Minister Trenta causes row, announcing the withdrawal of Italian contingent by the end of the year.

Kabul (AsiaNews) – The United States and the Taliban have agreed to a framework for a peace deal that would end the war in Afghanistan, US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad told the New York Times after six days of talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.

If implemented, the deal would see US troops pull out in exchange for the Taliban agreeing not to allow Afghan territory to be used by terrorists and to engage the Afghan government in direct talks.

Fr Giuseppe Moretti, chaplain at the Italian embassy and responsible for the missio sui iuris of Afghanistan until 2015, spoke to AsiaNews about the news.

"It is absurd to exclude the Afghan government from the talks. Until proven otherwise, President Ashraf Ghani was democratically elected. His exclusion is not only a discourtesy to him, but also a mistake in international diplomacy."

Yesterday, Donald Trump's envoy was in the Afghan capital to talk to Afghan authorities about the progress in the Doha negotiations.

“The Taliban have committed, to our satisfaction, to do what is necessary that would prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a platform for international terrorist groups or individuals,” Khalilzad told the New York Times.

According to the latest information, the United States has 14,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, out of a total of 16,000 NATO troops.

For the US, this is the longest war ever, with thousands of lives lost since 2001, both civilians and military (3,400 civilian deaths in 2017 alone).

Unlike his predecessors (including Barack Obama) who always increased the number of troops, President Trump opted to cut US troop deployment by 5,000 at the end of December, right after announcing a pullout from Syria.

Fr Moretti noted that "for now there is only talk of an agreement in principle between the US and the insurgents; no official document has been signed". However, "it is very dangerous that Kabul was not included.”

“Afghanistan was never an American colony. If one day the Taliban were to return to power, it is precisely with the government that they must find a compromise."

The priest goes on to reiterate that "the only clear point in the Afghan question is that all [foreign] soldiers will leave, not just the Americans. The crucial point is to negotiate the way for the Taliban to return.”

"If Ghani stays, it is clear that the Taliban cannot repeat what they did between 1996 and 2001. If they want to come back to power like in the 1990s, then Afghan women will be the real political refugees, deprived of their human rights."

News of the US-Taliban deal has already had repercussions in the NATO countries that have forces in Afghanistan, like Italy.

Italian media today report a statement by Italian Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta who yesterday announced that she wanted to pull out all 900 Italian soldiers. This triggered a spat within her government after official sources at the Foreign Ministry said there was no talk on the matter between Trenta and the Foreign Ministry.

"It is surprising that the Foreign Minister was not informed,” Father Moretti said. One thing must be said: if the Americans were to withdraw, what would Italian soldiers be doing there? Their mission is to train local troops, but they are well trained after 15 years."

The country’s future "is very different from the military presence. If we really want to start on the path of democracy and peace, things must be different. People need work, schools, hospitals, roads. But above all work, and a safer life."

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