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3 reasons why Trump called off peace deal with Taliban that no one in US wanted to touch

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In keeping with his preferred way of conducting diplomacy, US President Donald Trump, in a series of tweets, has slammed the recent upsurge in Taliban terror attacks and called off the ‘peace negotiations’ between the US and Taliban. The immediate provocation, according to Trump, was a suicide bombing in Kabul in which a US soldier was killed along with a dozen other people. He has also questioned the credibility and reliability of the Taliban. Pointing to the refusal of the Taliban to agree to a ceasefire during the negotiations, he has expressed doubts about their “power to negotiate a meaningful agreement.”

That Trump decided to walk out of the ‘peace talks’ when virtually everything had been settled and, by his own admission, the Taliban and Afghanistan president were going to ‘secretly’ meet in Camp David, fits into a pattern of sorts — Trump’s now-on-now-off negotiating strategy aimed at unsettling his interlocutors by indulging in brinkmanship to get a better deal.

Trump was quite right in reading the spike in Taliban attacks as an attempt by them to build what he called ‘a false leverage’. But the Taliban were not just ratcheting up the attacks to build leverages against the Afghan government, they were also responding to Trump’s declaration that the US will “always have a presence…and high intelligence” in Afghanistan. It was a clear signal to the Americans that if the US and other foreign troops stay back in Afghanistan then they will be targeted. For their part, the Taliban have been quite clear and consistent in what they want out of any deal with the Americans. The draft agreement that was negotiated by the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad virtually gave in to everything demanded by the Taliban. The only compromise on the Taliban side appears to have been the somewhat extended time-frame — 15-18 months — for withdrawal of all foreign troops.

It was seen as being such a bad deal that there was a major push back from inside the US establishment. Not only were officials in the Trump team expressing their reservations, there was also pressure built by some of his close political associates who warned against a complete pull out from Afghanistan. Then there was the dire warning against the peace deal issued by nine former ambassadors to Kabul. Such was the reluctance of anyone to be associated with the deal that even the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had refused to become a signatory to the deal with the Taliban until it was first approved by the President and all other parties.

The Afghans were, of course, livid at being by-passed in the negotiations and being confronted with a fait accompli by........

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