President Joe Biden has ordered the review of the Afghan peace agreement, which the U.S. and Taliban signed last year, to evaluate whether the Taliban are living up to their side of the agreement.
Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser for the Biden administration, spoke with his Afghan counterpart, Hamdullah Mohib, the White House said in a January 22 statement.
The U.S. is set to review the peace agreement reached under former President Donald Trump’s administration a year ago, “including to assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan, and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders,” said Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.
Under the peace agreement, all foreign forces were to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for security guarantees from the Taliban, including their severing of ties with al-Qaeda and engaging in talks with the Afghan government. And while talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government have been ongoing for several months, little progress has been made amid the backdrop of increasing violence by the Taliban.
Sullivan’s efforts will spearhead the Biden administration’s plan which “will support the peace process with a robust and regional diplomatic effort, which will aim to help the two sides achieve a durable and just political settlement and permanent cease-fire,” added Horne in her statement.
Sullivan and Mohib also discussed the United States’ support for protecting recent progress made, as part of the peace process, on women and minority groups’ rights. Mohib took to Twitter and wrote that during the call the two sides “agreed to work toward a permanent ceasefire and a just and durable peace” in the country.
However, other Afghan government leaders were very vocal in saying that the Taliban have not lived up to their side of the agreement.
Sediq Sediqqi, deputy interior minister and former spokesman to President Ashraf Ghani, also wrote on Twitter that, “The agreement so far, did not deliver the desired goal of ending Taliban’s violence and bringing a ceasefire desired by the Afghans.”
“The Taliban did not live up to [their] commitments,” he added.
Meanwhile, targeted assassinations are rising sharply in Afghanistan with prominent women, judges, journalists and even military members coming under attack. Afghan Peace Watch, a nonprofit media organization, has documented 130 targeted assassinations in the last three months of 2020 and 40 more this year already.
Most, if not all of the victims, were killed by the Taliban according to analysts. NBC News quoted Patricia Gossman, an associate director for the Asia Division at Human Rights Watch, who said, “While claiming not to kill civilians, they basically redefine civilians to suit their own purposes.” Gossman noted that those targeted have tended to be people who Taliban commanders associate with the government. “[The Taliban] long said that people who work for the government are no longer civilians.”
Afghan officials claim that since the peace agreement was signed the Taliban have switched from indiscriminate attacks against civilians to targeted attacks to avoid giving Washington the impression of rescinding on the agreement. Their goal is to weaken the Afghan government and gain an advantage in the peace talks.
However, Mohammad Naeem, the group’s spokesman in Qatar, said to AFP that the Taliban are “committed to the agreement and honor our commitments.”
“We expect the other side to remain committed to the agreement too,” he added.