Abdullah expects little change in US policy post elections

Afghanistan’s Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah said he did not expect the result of the November 3 elections in the United States to dramatically change the Afghan peace process or troops withdrawal plans.

“Nobody can say with certainty what would be the impact of the outcome of the elections in the United States but based on my experiences and interactions, the policy will not change that much,” Abdullah said in an interview with Reuters.

“It will not go to the old days that ‘let’s bring another 100,000 troops to Afghanistan, and that will be a solution’. That part of the policy has some bipartisan support that we should see a peaceful end to the conflict and also the withdrawal of the troops, if not today, tomorrow, the day after. That’s my assessment at the moment.”

“Neither Democrats nor Republicans would want to see all the gains or all the sacrifices they have made in Afghanistan in vain…(or) be hurt once again from Afghanistan or because of Afghanistan,” he said.

Abdullah also said that the planned donor conference in Geneva in November would also be “one of the things in our mind”.

On his visit earlier this week to Pakistan, Abdullah said he believed there had been a change in recent years in Pakistan’s approach, adding that they still had influence over the Taliban leadership, though the degree was at times exaggerated.

“It was communicated to the Taliban that it was important for them, it’s important to their relations with Pakistan that they sit around the negotiating table,” he said, saying that had helped to break decades of the Taliban refusing to sit down for talks.

“In the past two and a half decades, the Taliban had developed a very rigid position, not to sit, not to talk, and today that has changed. And also here, when I was here, I heard the same messages from the leadership of the country, all politicians, all those in the military and security establishment, that this is what we expect from the Taliban, and this is what we support. And it’s not in our interest to take side this way, that way, but to take the side of peace, and support that. I do consider this as an important development.”

President Donald Trump’s administration brokered peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban to end 19 years of war. A condition of the agreement, to get the Taliban to the talks tables, was that the United States will pull out its troops by April or May next year.