Earlier this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suddenly left for an emergency trip to Afghanistan.
At the time, little information was given, but we now know that the trip was an attempt by the White House to save the Taliban peace deal that, according to The Washington Times, is rapidly collapsing.
At the heart of the peace deal is the Afghan leadership’s compliance with a prisoner exchange agreement. Afghanistan was supposed to free some 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for 1,000 Afghanistan prisoners.
That exchange was supposed to have taken place about a month ago, but Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has refused to authorize the deal, jeopardizing the long-sought peace agreement.
In response, Taliban attacks on Afghan government forces have resumed, and the peace deal the Trump administration recently negotiated is about to be tossed into the shredder.
Much of this is going on because Ghani and his main political rival, Abdullah Abdullah, are both claiming victory in the national election held in September of 2019.
Pompeo was extremely unhappy with the behavior of both men and how it has contributed to the destruction of the peace deal. He reportedly flew to Afghanistan to meet with both leaders separately and then jointly.
The secretary of State also reportedly flew from Afghanistan to Qatar in order to meet with top Taliban officials.
The Washington Times reported: “The State Department said Mr. Pompeo’s aim was ‘to press the Taliban to continue to comply with the agreement signed last month.'”
Pompeo stated on Monday that the two leaders “have been unable to agree on an inclusive government that can meet the challenges of governance, peace and security, and provide for the health and welfare of Afghan citizens.”
While U.S. troop reduction in the area has already started per the peace agreement, that may soon be halted if this feud is not resolved soon. In fact, a “stop movement” order has already been given temporarily, raising even more doubts as to whether or not American forces will ever truly be able to leave the Middle East entirely.
Due to the refusal of Afghanistan leadership to come to an agreement, Pompeo has also slashed $1 billion in aid from the United States this year, and another $1 billion could be withheld in 2021.