The ongoing negotiations between the US and the Taliban are a “charade” designed simply to provide the US a “face-saving way out of Afghanistan,” former CIA deputy director Michael Morell said as quoted by Axios.
US President Donald Trump wants to move quickly toward a deal to end the war in Afghanistan. But according to Axios, Morell is one of several experts and former officials warning that such a deal won’t secure peace.
“The president has said the Taliban is tired. That’s not true. The Taliban controls more territory than at any time since the 9/11 attacks and it seeks what it has always sought: to fully control Afghanistan as a one-party state,” Morell said as quoted by Axios.
He said a recent Taliban video that justifies the 9/11 attacks based on “interventionist” US policies — and threatens “vengeance” against Afghan security forces — “represents [the Taliban's] true views” more clearly than anything told to US negotiators.
Despite the US red line that Afghanistan never again be used as a base for international terrorism, Morell said the Taliban would welcome al-Qaeda back into the country after a US withdrawal.
In a twitter post, Morell said he is not arguing the US should stay in Afghanistan. “I’m arguing we need to be clear-eyed about what will happen there when we leave and have a plan for how we can keep a close watch on Afghanistan from an intelligence perspective and how we can degrade them militarily if we need to do so,” he said.
“This argument I’m making — that the Taliban is going to take over, al-Qaeda is going to have a safe haven — is exactly the argument the president made to stay in Afghanistan two years ago,” Morell said as quoted by Axios. “But we all know… [then-Defense Secretary] Jim Mattis kind of dragged him kicking and screaming to that, and the president wants out.”
This comes as the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with President Ashraf Ghani by phone on July 24 and both sides insisted that it is the time to accelerate efforts for ending the Afghan war through negotiations, the US Department of State said in a statement.
Pompeo assured Ghani that US President’s South Asia strategy, including the US commitment for a condition-based drawdown has not changed, and that all the efforts of US officials, including the US Special Envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad, is going in that direction.
Ghani welcomed US involvement in Afghan peace and added that Kabul will work side-by-side with Washington for bringing a durable peace in Afghanistan to ensure terrorism will have no place in it, the statement said.