Current Situation: the Ongoing Peace Talks
For the past two years, the Trump Administration entered negotiations with the Taliban, seeking an end to U.S. presence in Afghanistan. After nearly a year and half of negotiations, the U.S. government, represented by the U.S. Chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad, and the Taliban leaders signed an agreement on February 29th, 2020. The agreement omits women’s rights, human rights, and the preservation of the Constitution of Afghanistan that guarantees equal rights for women.
The agreement focuses on the withdrawal of “all military forces of the United States, its allies and Coalition partners, all non-diplomatic civilian personnel… trainers and advisors” within 14 months. The United States has already begun this process. In return, the Taliban’s guarantee that Afghanistan will not be used by terrorist groups to threaten the U.S. and its allies’ security. In this agreement, there is no way to monitor or verify whether or not the Taliban keeps its promises.
The agreement also makes no commitment to preserve and continue the amazing progress achieved in education, healthcare, security, and freedom of the media over the last two decades. These exclusions have alarmed Afghan women leaders and their allies. Over the last two years, Afghan women have organized, protested, wrote to leaders, written op-eds, continue to give interviews in hope that their voices will be heard and listened to.
Afghan women and the Afghan government were excluded from the negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban, at the demand of the Taliban. The exclusion of women from these negotiations was a clear violation of the U.S. Women Peace and Security Act, passed into law in 2017. In omitting the Afghan government, the U.S. Trump Administration has undermined the Afghan government, its legitimacy, and its hard work in creating relative stability and progress. The Taliban has continuously refused to recognize the democratically elected government of Afghanistan, its Constitution and to renounce its own desire to rule. They have shown no progress in cruelly denying women their human rights.
Finally, the terms of the agreement are not practical or enforceable. This agreement endangers our national security, the geopolitical stability of the region and the national security of Afghanistan. To trust the Taliban with our security would make a mockery of all the sacrifices of the Afghan people, the U.S., NATO and the international community. Also, to ignore the lives and rights of about one-half of the Afghan people is not a road to peace, but a dangerous road to chaos and violations of human rights and women’s rights.