Kabul (BNA) NATO says an increase in attacks carried out by the Taliban threatens to derail Afghanistan peace process talks whose terms have just been hammered out.
The statement on Wednesday by the alliance comes after an agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban for a framework for peace talks in Qatar was struck last week.
Last month, the Pentagon’s Sigar (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) warned of a 50 percent spike in violence from the Taliban violence within three months and accused the group of targeting journalists.
Radio Free Europe reported that the Taliban is carrying out targeted killings and assassinations as well as staging mass casualty attacks against Afghan government military targets. The outlet reported that the aim was to gain leverage in the peace talks.
Amid the backdrop of increased violence, NATO said it hoped the negotiations in Doha would lead to an “enduring and comprehensive” Afghan peace agreement aimed at ending nearly two decades of war.
It praised the deal agreed by Kabul and the Taliban and the first meeting of the leadership committee of the High Council for National Reconciliation as “important steps toward a comprehensive and lasting peace in Afghanistan.”
NATO added that a negotiated political settlement is the “only hope for a lasting peace” but said that “violence, especially driven by Taliban attacks, continues to undermine the peace process and must end.”
Under a deal agreed in Doha in February, foreign forces were due to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counter-terrorism guarantees from the Taliban. But in November, acting defense secretary Christopher Miller announced that U.S. troop numbers would be reduced to 2,500 by January, which was welcomed by the Taliban.
Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas has warned NATO must not withdraw troops from the country too early for fear of jeopardising the peace talks. Critics fear that the insurgents are biding their time for the exit of U.S. troops and want to take the entire country by force.
Chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Mark Milley told a virtual conference last month that there was a stalemate between the Taliban and the forces of the Kabul government. He also admitted that the U.S. had achieved only a “modicum of success” in nearly 20 years of trying to establish stable democracy in Afghanistan, Military.com reported.
The graphic below provided by Statista shows the expense of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan this century.