Eric Gozlan
Eric Gozlan

Afghanistan: When Heads of State pretend to be surprised

On August 15, the Taliban entered Kabul after conquering the main cities of Afghanistan in about ten days.

Since then, the United States and Europe have been urgently organizing the evacuation of diplomats, NGO workers and Afghans working with the West under very difficult conditions

Looking at the chronology of events that plunged Afghanistan into chaos, one wonders how the heads of state are surprised by the capture of Kabul.

On February 29, 2020, the United States led by Donald Trump signed a peace agreement with the Taliban. The Doha agreement sets out the terms for the withdrawal of American troops from the country. To the great surprise of the Afghan government, the latter is not invited, and the Taliban have only one commitment: not to attack foreign forces while they are withdrawing.

This text is not a peace treaty but an agreement on “violence reduction”.

On November 21, 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets in Qatar with Taliban and Afghan government negotiators as Donald Trump accelerates the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan despite continuing violence.

In December 2020, General Milley, the American Chief of Staff, met the Taliban for the second time. He had already gone to Qatar in June, where the Taliban have their political office, but this first meeting was not made public.

On April 5, 2021, the French edition of the Times of Israel published an article about Zabulon Simantov, the last Jew living in Afghanistan, who explained that he was going to live in Israel because “if the Taliban come back, they will make us leave with a slap in the face,

Zabulon Simantov feared “that the promise of the American military to leave the country will leave a vacuum that can be filled by radical groups, like the Taliban.”

On May 4, 2021, Taliban fighters launched their first major offensive against Afghan security forces, particularly in the southwestern province of Helmand. Other localities were also attacked.

On May 29, 2021, The European Council  calls on the Taliban to build confidence allowing for the early opening of intra-Afghan negotiations based on the sufficient number of prisoners already released. The Taliban will have to respect both the terms of their bilateral agreement with the United States government, signed in Doha on February 29, 2020.

On July 9, 2021, The Islam Qala border crossing was taken by the Taliban. The taking is important, since it is the most important crossing point between Afghanistan and Iran. A few hours later, a border post with Turkmenistan fell. The armed group then claimed to hold more than 85% of the territory.

On July 10, 2021, The Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation issued a statement calling for a temporary halt to forced returns of Afghan “migrants.” The statement cites “the escalating violence caused by the Taliban terrorist group in the country, and the spread of the third wave of COVID-19,” as well as the deteriorating security situation and increasing number of internally displaced persons.

All those who follow the news from Afghanistan cannot be surprised by the taking of Kabul by the Taliban and already know that darkness will fall on this country for a long time.

About the Author
Eric Gozlan is Government Counselor and co-director of the international Council for diplomacy and dialogue. He works in civic diplomacy in the Middle East and in Africa. He has received numerous awards for peace and gives numerous lectures. He served in the IDF for several years.
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