With just a few weeks left before the Trump administration’s May 1 deadline of pulling out the troops from Afghanistan, the Afghan government has opened a new Pandora’s box by refusing to accept the US offer to set up an interim government in the country.
Not only this, the president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, is all set to announce the new presidential elections as well in the country, without setting any interim government, rejecting the US peace plan.
According to the reports, he will unveil the new plan in next month’s meeting in Turkey.
This will open new doors for the Biden administration, which was already looking to delay the troop pullout from Afghanistan.
What are the consequences of the Afghan government’s recent decision to hold the new presidential election in the wake of times when the US is already discussing a troop withdrawal plan with its NATO allies? Let’s see.
Afghanistan’s Upcoming Presidential Elections: Ghani’s Bid to Ignore US in Peace Process
The United States is the major stakeholder in the Afghanistan peace process, as it started the war itself 21 years ago. When it’s time for the ending of the war, Afghanistan is all set to disenfranchise the USA.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani rejected the US peace plan, saying that he will announce a new presidential election within the next six months.
According to Ghani’s government officials, the plan will be unveiled in Turkey next month in a high-profile meeting that will be attended by all the stakeholders.
The Afghan government official, on anonymity, said,
“The counterproposal which we are going to present at the Istanbul meeting would be to call for early presidential elections if the Taliban agree on a ceasefire.”
(Anonymous Official of Afghan Government)
With the United States being sidelined, the stakes of the US for the pullout have been increased even further.
With this step of Afghanistan’s government, the Taliban will not be taken into consideration, which will trigger the conflict further in Afghanistan.
It is pertinent to note here that when the last presidential elections were announced in Afghanistan, a sudden surge in the Taliban terrorist activities in Afghanistan occurred, resulting in hundreds of deaths.
It means that these announced elections will also likely trigger a response from the Taliban, resulting in increased terrorist activities.
The US will find it as an opportunity to extend its presence in Afghanistan and to avoid the May 1 deadline.
NATO vs. Taliban: An Upcoming Crisis
Meanwhile, the US is already buckling up to pull up its socks to discuss the matter with its NATO allies.
It is apposite to note here that NATO is a prominent stakeholder in the Afghan process, as troops from all the NATO countries are present in Afghanistan. For this purpose, Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, said,
“We went in together, we have adjusted together, and when the time is right, we will leave together.”
The Afghan Taliban will benefit the most in case of the May 1 withdrawal as, without any proper government infrastructure, it will be easy for them to gain control of the government by force. This is the reason why the Afghan Taliban spokesman has already said,
“In case Americans do not meet their obligations and abandon the agreement, the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) will be forced to defend their nation and consider all other options to force foreign troops out of the country,”
(Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban’s spokesman)
The Afghan government’s step to announce a new election without US consideration seems to be a hasty one, as it will kick off many crises. The first and foremost is the US avoidance of withdrawing troops from the region. The second will be the ambitions of the Taliban that they have been fostering for a while now, that they will retaliate in the case of the US breaking the promise.
Considering all the options here, it is clear that violence is imminent in Afghanistan in the upcoming days in either case.
The US pulling out in haste and handing over all the matters to the Afghan government immediately, after bowing down to their plan of the new election, seems to be an impossible thing.
Similarly, the Afghan Taliban agreeing to extend the date of troops’ withdrawal seems even next to impossible.
In either case, the sufferings will be for Afghan people, who have been facing the consequences of the war for the last 21 years.