The International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR), RSIS, hosted a webinar on the Implications of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan on 25 November 2020. Speaking at the session were Mr Ahmed Rashid, a renowned journalist and author; Prof Amin Saikal, Adjunct Professor of Social Sciences at the University of Western Australia; and Dr Shanthie Mariet D’Souza, founder and president of Mantraya. During the discussions, different dimensions of the Afghan conflict against the expected US exit from Afghanistan were brought up.
In his remarks, Mr Rashid noted that the US was exhausted and keen to withdraw its forces by brokering a deal between Kabul and the Taliban. Notwithstanding the US-Taliban agreement signed in February 2020 in Qatar, he maintained that the militant group would not concede to Kabul at the negotiation table. Instead, the Taliban would drag the negotiations to ensure the US pull out, and then shift gears on the battlefield to achieve a military victory.
Prof Saikal was of the view that the US had lost the war in Afghanistan, and that President-elect Joe Biden’s Afghan policy would not differ substantially from that of the Trump administration, i.e., there may be a gradual US withdrawal, but the overall policy framework would remain the same. He upheld that the Taliban remained closely allied to Al-Qaeda despite promising the US that the links would be severed.
Dr Shanthie argued that “warlordism”, prolonged instability and volatility were imminent in the absence of a regional pact for non-interference in Afghanistan as well as the Taliban’s rigidity in the intra-Afghan talks. In her view, this situation would negatively affect regional peace and stability.
All three speakers emphasised the need for UN mediation to ensure continued dialogue between the Taliban and the Afghan government, and convince the Taliban to agree to a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire.
Catch it here on the RSISVideoCast YouTube channel: