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US Afghan special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad quits post; blamed for hasty US withdrawal

US Afghan special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad quits post; blamed for hasty US withdrawal
camera_altZalmay Khalilzad who resigned his post as US special envoy to Afghanistan (file photo)

Washington: US special envoy in Afghanistan, and key figure in the US-Taliban peace talks, Zalmay Khalilzad, resigned from his post on Monday, AFP reported.

The US peace talks in Doha with Taliban were mostly steered by the Afghan-born senior diplomat, but finally the US withdrawal came too soon, even sooner than the advanced withdrawal deadline of 31 August, and the Afghan troops crumbled without offering resistance before the Taliban.

In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Khalilzad defended his performance but acknowledged that he came up short and said he wanted to make way during the "new phase of our Afghanistan policy."

"The political arrangement between the Afghan government and the Taliban did not go forward as envisaged," he wrote, "the reasons for this are too complex and I will share my thoughts in the coming day and weeks."

His description of the situation looked brief, but he sounded there is a lot more than what meets the eye and the ear of world watchers focusing on one of the most geo-politically strategic land strips of the globe.

The 70-year old academic turned US diplomat had held senior positions under former president George W Bush and had been US ambassador to Kabul, Baghdad and the UN.

When Donald Trump decided that the US engagement in Afghanistan should end, the role of negotiator with Taliban at the table in Doha fell on Khalilzad's shoulders, a role which he played with hectic diplomatic zigzags, but without involving the US-backed Afghan government in Kabul. Finally an agreement was reached in February 2020 whereby US troops were scheduled to leave Afghan soil by year-end.

But then peace negotiations gave way to faster Taliban capture of territories which then made a fast forward of Taliban capture rather than peaceful handover. And it became only a matter of time before the militant outfit took over the country by August 15.

Besides his advantage as an Afghan born US diplomat in US-Taliban talks, Khalilzad,despite his Republican affiliation, turned out to be acceptable to Democratic President Joe Biden too who kept him on the unfinished job to continue.

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken said that Khalilzad's deputy, Thomas West, would take over as the special envoy.

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TAGS:Zalmay KhalilzadUS special envoyAfghan-born US diplomathasty US withdrawal from Afghanistan
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