Doha agreement empowered Taliban, says Ned Price

On the occasion of the third anniversary of the Doha agreement, the US State Department’s spokesman Ned Price on Wednesday said the agreement signed between the group and the US “empowered the Taliban” but “weakened the US partners in the Afghan government.”

Addressing a press briefing, Price said the Taliban has not fulfilled the commitments it agreed to in the Doha deal.

“The agreement empowered the Taliban, it weakened our partners in the Afghan government, and committed to withdrawing our troops a few months after President (Joe) Biden’s inauguration with no clear plan for what should come next, despite imposing a deadline,” Price told reporters.

“That said, we have seen Mullah Baradar’s own statement, and we of course disagree with the key points in his own statement,” Price said. “Namely, the Taliban have not fulfilled their own commitments – the commitments that they made in the Doha Agreement.”

Price said that while the Taliban has taken some unsatisfactory steps regarding certain terrorist groups in Afghanistan, it is well known that the Taliban sheltered then-al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, which flies in the face of the agreement.
“It was only because the United States Government was resolute in our commitment to take decisive action in the face of such threats that we removed Ayman al Zawahiri and he is no longer the leader of al-Qaida,” he stated.

Similarly, the Taliban also have not fulfilled their Doha commitment to engage in political dialogue leading to a negotiated settlement, he said.

“We shouldn’t forget that the Doha Agreement envisioned a peaceful settlement, not a takeover on the part of the Taliban. In fact, it was titled, quote, “An Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan.” We continue to call on the Taliban to fulfill the commitments that they made to not only the United States in the context of this document but, most importantly, to their own people, the Afghan people that are still waiting for the Taliban to make good on those commitments,” Price said.

He said that the US is “watching very closely to see what happens later this month when we expect Afghanistan’s schools to reopen.”

“We stand with the Afghan people in calling on the Taliban to allow women and girls to have access to education and to participate fully in society. The Taliban’s decision to close secondary schools to girls last March violated again the very promises the Taliban made to their own people. It’s had a significant impact in turn on our engagement with Taliban representatives,” he said.

Education is an internationally recognized human right, he said, adding that it’s essential to Afghanistan’s growth, to its economic stability, to its potential for prosperity as well. There’s a very simple reason why no other country on the face of the Earth bars women and girls from obtaining an education. No country, simply put, can thrive when half of its population is arbitrarily held back, he stated.

Pricke’s comments came just hours after the Taliban celebrated the third anniversary of the agreement at a ceremony in Kabul where its deputy chief minister Abdul Ghani Baradar, who signed the agreement with former US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, blamed the US for violating the Doha deal.

He said the agreement was violated in many instances, including the release of prisoners, the freezing of Afghan assets and the removal of Taliban leaders’ names from the UN blacklist.

Doha agreement

The United States and the Taliban signed the Doha Agreement on February 29, 2020.

The agreement was signed in Doha after 18 months of talks between Zalmay Khalilzad and Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Signing ceremony of US-Taliban deal in Doha, Qatar, Feb. 29, 2020. Photo: Reuters.

The agreement was signed during former president Donald Trump’s tenure in Qatar.

Just last week, a new report by US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) stated that the US Department of Defense contributed to the sudden collapse of the Afghan security forces in August 2021.