How Donald Trump Blew Up the Afghan Peace Process

Arif Rafiq

With the suspension of the U.S.-Taliban talks, Mullah Baradar, the Taliban’s lead negotiator in Qatar, may be spending some of his free time reading Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal, trying to make sense of the U.S. president’s bombshell Twitter thread from this weekend.

On Saturday, Trump let the world know via tweet that he had planned to host Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at Camp David the next day, but was canceling the summit and pulling the United States out of talks with the Taliban because the militant group took responsibility for a recent attack that took the life of an American soldier.

Hosting the Taliban at Camp David was simply a bad idea. The militant group has done little at this point to deserve the legitimacy that would be afforded to it by a trilateral summit on U.S. soil with the president of the United States. While the Taliban was on the cusp of concluding a landmark peace agreement with the United States, it had yet to begin a meaningful dialogue with other Afghans on reconciliation and does not appear to have made major concessions in talks with Washington.

Trump’s aim seems to have been to use the spectacle of a Camp David summit to bring Ghani and Taliban leaders together and push the next stage of the peace process—the intra-Afghan dialogue forward—by at least getting the militant group to agree to a nationwide ceasefire.

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