Former US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who held talks with the Taliban’s senior leadership in 2020 in Qatar and witnessed the signing of a peace deal between the two sides in Doha the same year, said former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani had opposed peace efforts by the United States and that he was “frustrated” with him.
Speaking at an event at the Institute of Politics in Chicago, Pompeo explained how Ghani’s opposition to the peace efforts by the United States led to the situation Afghanistan is in today. He said the US was ready for a long-term negotiation between all Afghan factions that would end up in a peace agreement, but Ghani denied to attend such talks.
“This is an effort President Obama had tried to undertake,” Pompeo said, referring to US peace efforts.
“And we ultimately achieved that and President Ghani was against that. He didn’t want to do that,” he said, adding that Ghani was just been “re-elected” and “he stole the election just more effectively than his competitor had stolen the votes.”
“So he was against it,” Pompeo said of Ghani. “He was very upset that the United States had convened with the Taliban.”
“But if you go look at that meeting, it was fascinating, it was probably my fourth or fifth meeting with the Taliban senior leadership,” he said of his meeting with Taliban leadership, including Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Qatar in 20202.
“The deputy that I met with, almost certainly killed a friend of mine,” Pompeo said.
Speaking about the Qatar meeting, he said: “If you look at that meeting, we had every group, we had the northern alliance there, we had women’s rights groups there, we had human rights groups there. We had everyone sitting around the table and we were probably in for a five-year, 10-year negotiation.”
Pompeo said achieving a peace agreement in three years or five years in long-term negotiations after “big wars” is a historic achievement and “we were hopeful that we had begun to head down that road.”
He added that “President Ghani wasn’t up for that and didn’t want to participate in it and that was most unfortunate because, in the end, you see what happens: Unlike Zelensky who chose to stay, President Ghani hops on an airplane heads to some place to live a very nice peaceful life while there are so many people suffering in Afghanistan.”
He said that President Biden made the choice to pull the troops out of Afghanistan and “bad things” happened after that.
“He made the choice that set a date certain and pulls out and that end was devastatingly bad… You should know our friends don’t trust us as much as they did before that and our adversaries do not fear us as much and I cannot prove that I’m convinced that Vladimir Putin’s moves in Europe were at least in part of his observations on how President Biden handled the departure from Afghanistan,” he said.
Pompeo mentioned that he did not ask President Ghani to step down but he was so “frustrated” with him.
“He would think that I did, but I didn’t,” he said. “I was incredibly frustrated with President Ghani. It took us to step in and finally get all the Afghans to the negotiating table.”
The republic government under Ashraf Ghani collapsed on August 15, 2021, after Ghani left the country with his team, opening the way for the Taliban to get into Kabul and take over power.