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Thursday, February 15, 2024

US-Afghan ties to strengthen after Biden’s victory?

"Afghanistan looks forward to continuing/deepening our multilayered strategic partnership w/ the United States, our foundational partner, including in counterterrorism & bringing peace to Afghanistan," Ghani wrote on Twitter.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Sunday that ties between Kabul and Washington are expected to deepen in areas of counterterrorism and building peace as he congratulated Joe Biden on his election victory.

“Afghanistan looks forward to continuing/deepening our multilayered strategic partnership w/ the United States, our foundational partner, including in counterterrorism & bringing peace to Afghanistan,” Ghani wrote on Twitter.

Biden’s victory was also welcomed by ordinary citizens, who thought he might slow what some see as a too-hasty withdrawal of US troops.

Peace deal with Taliban

US President Donald Trump’s administration signed a deal with the Taliban on February 29 that agreed to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan by May 2021.

“Biden will also finish the war, but he wants to bring the war to a responsible end, not rushing like Trump,” said Mohammad Dawood, a garment seller in Kabul.

“He will slow down the withdrawal from Afghanistan and will keep some troops here, which is good news.”

Read more: Afghanistan: What will it take to achieve sustainable peace?

The withdrawal of troops has been a cornerstone of Trump’s plans to end America’s longest war. His administration agreed to fully disengage in exchange for a commitment from the Taliban to stop trans-national jihadist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Islamic State from operating in Afghanistan. The US military has already shut several bases across the country and pulled out thousands of troops as agreed.

Biden administration, more tolerant?

Timor Sharan, a lecturer at the American University in Afghanistan, said on Twitter that the incoming Biden administration will have a “more tolerant” approach to peace talks, as Washington’s deal with the Taliban was “terrible” and gave no leverage to the government.

That excluded the Afghan government from negotiations, however, and also saw almost 6,000 Taliban prisoners released — much to the displeasure of authorities.

Read more: Trump says wants US troops out of Afghanistan by Christmas

Days after the release of prisoners, peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government to end the war were launched in the Qatari capital.

The talks, which commenced on September 12, have failed to make any significant progress so far.

Violence still prevalent despite peace deal

Violence has surged across Afghanistan in recent months despite the Taliban and Afghan government engaging in peace talks to end the country’s long running conflict. It has surged across the country, including in Kabul, with the Taliban stepping up daily attacks against Afghan security forces. Scores of people were killed in two attacks in the capital targeting educational institutions within days of each other. Both attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group, but officials have blamed the Taliban.

Survivors described horrific scenes after a suicide bomber struck inside the campus around 11:00 am (0530 GMT) on 2nd November. Two gunmen then opened fire, officials said, sending hundreds of students fleeing and scrambling over perimeter walls. Fraidoon Ahmadi, a 23-year-old student, told AFP he was in a university class when gunfire broke out.

Read more: US thanks Pakistan for aiding in Afghanistan peace process

“We were very scared and we thought it could be the last day of our lives… boys and girls were shouting, praying and crying for help,” Ahmadi said. He said he and other students were besieged for more than two hours before being rescued. Images posted online showed what appeared to be the bodies of slain students lying by desks and chairs.

“They opened fire… all my classmates were lying in blood, either dead or wounded,” one student told a local television channel, adding that he escaped by climbing out a window. IS said two of its fighters carried out the late morning attack.

“Joe Biden’s election as president is good news for Afghanistan,” said Ahmad Jawed, a university student in Kabul. “I think he will not repeat mistakes committed by Trump. I think Biden will even reconsider the US-Taliban deal and then somehow keep some troops in Afghanistan.”

Read more: Op-ed: What does the US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan mean for Pakistan?

AFP with additional input by GVS news desk