Zalmay Khalilzad faces criticism in US and Afghanistan

The war ended under Mr. Khalilzad’s watch, but not under the conditions he had hoped for. Instead of the power-sharing government it ima...


The war ended under Mr. Khalilzad’s watch, but not under the conditions he had hoped for. Instead of the power-sharing government it imagined it could contain the Taliban, the militant group assumed full control of the country, which is now facing economic collapse and starvation.

“Zal comes out of this quite a tragic figure,” said Eric S. Edelman, a former national security official who worked with Mr. Khalilzad under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

As Pentagon colleagues in the late 1980s, Mr. Edelman and Mr. Khalilzad helped direct U.S. policy of supporting Mujahedin fighters in Afghanistan resisting Soviet occupiers. During the Bush administration, they again supported resistance fighters, this time fighting the Taliban during the invasion of the United States in 2001.

“He has done a lot to create a modern post-Taliban independent state,” Edelman said of Mr. Khalilzad. “And then being part of the handmaid of her disappearance – I don’t know how you can see that as other than tragic.”

Mr. Khalilzad had been out of government for years when, during the 2016 presidential campaign, he presented Mr. Trump for a foreign policy speech hosted by a think tank he was affiliated with. A longtime Republican, Mr. Khalilzad did not support Mr. Trump, noting his “provocative views.” But the introduction has earned him goodwill in Mr. Trump’s inner circle.

Then, in 2018, Mr. Khalilzad told Trump administration officials that Taliban officials wanted to discuss a peace deal. Last September, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appointed him as an envoy for “the singular mission” of “developing opportunities to bring the Afghans and the Taliban to reconcile”.

In practice, however, the talks have focused on the terms of the US withdrawal that Mr. Trump has called for. Eighteen months and hundreds of hours of bartering in the Qatari capital, Doha, produced a agreement in February 2020 under which the United States agreed to withdraw all its troops and the Taliban promised to stop attacks on American forces and never to harbor terrorist groups.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Zalmay Khalilzad faces criticism in US and Afghanistan
Zalmay Khalilzad faces criticism in US and Afghanistan
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