A new government set to take oath in the US
President-elect Joe Biden’s recent US election win has him preparing to come into office with a new staff and government. It has been hard to know for sure what his policy towards Afghanistan would be like. With Trump’s stance involved a fairly swift withdrawal of large numbers of troops, and the earlier US deal with the Taliban also supporting that, military personnel, Afghan government forces, and international partners were concerned that if the withdrawal is not careful, staggered, strategic, and slow, it might jeopardize the gains of the past 2 decades.
Security Advisor Nominee Jake Sullivan’s Statement
A shift in the US government and the inevitable accompanying shift in policy meant that the past month has been spent without any clarity. This will only change slowly as the US government transitions into Biden’s.
Additionally, the latest update on this front is a statement by Jake Sullivan. He is Joe Biden’s nominee for the position of security advisor, and hence his view on the US policy on Afghanistan significantly offers foresight on what to expect. He has highlighted that the deal signed by the US and the Taliban in February bound both parties to certain obligations.
The unpredictability of the Taliban
Furthermore, these obligations need to be fulfilled completely. This means that although the US needs to eventually completely withdraw, to uphold their end of the agreement, the Taliban needs to more thoroughly commit to peace in Afghanistan, not just at the level of negotiating, but in cutting ties with violent and terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda. Although at the surface level Taliban and its leadership has distanced itself from such organizations. The increasing waves of violence across Afghanistan and the analyses by several experts and government officials suggest that in practice, the Taliban, at an operational level and at lower ranks continue to be working with such organizations.
Democracy to prevail in Afghanistan
Lastly, Sullivan was clear that Biden’s government would support diplomacy along with these notes, but would simultaneously protect American interests to ensure that Afghanistan does not become a safe house for terrorists that pose a threat to the United States. This statement was well-timed, given the amount of praise that the US Secretary of State had given on Twitter, to Trump’s policy and its implementation in Afghanistan, saying that it was under him that the peace process started and the extraction of forces commenced.