U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration privately requested a formal apology from a top Afghan official who accused the United States of sidelining Kabul during the ongoing negotiations with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan, NBC News reported Wednesday.
The Trump administration allegedly threatened “to cut off” Hamdullah Mohib, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s national security adviser, from official contracts if he did not apologize, the news outlet allegedly learned from several unnamed people familiar with the situation.
NBC News reported:
The Afghan official, Hamdullah Mohib, refused to apologize, according to those familiar with the incident, returning to Kabul amid deepening uncertainty about the future of the U.S. relationship with Afghanistan and the Trump administration’s delicate peace talks with the Taliban.
It’s unclear whether high-level communications will continue unabated between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government and the U.S., or if so, through what channels. Those with knowledge of the exchange said U.S. officials are no longer in contact with Mohib, who was formerly the Afghan ambassador to Washington.
President Ghani himself has admitted that Afghanistan cannot afford to cut ties with the United States, noting that Kabul would collapse without U.S. assistance.
Citing a historic three-day ceasefire during the Muslim Eid holiday last year, U.S. government and independent assessments have noted that President Trump is closer to ending America’s longest foreign war than any of his predecessors.
President Trump inherited chaotic conditions from his predecessor who served as the American commander-in-chief while the Taliban gained control of more territory than during any other time since it was removed from power in 2001 and killed and wounded more Americans than ever before.
NBC News noted that the U.S. Department of State (DOS), the White House and the Afghan Embassy in Washington declined to comment on the record about the alleged Trump administration demand for a formal apology.
Last Thursday, Mohib accused Trump’s top Afghan reconciliation envoy in charge of peace negotiations with the Taliban — Zalmay Khalilzad — of “delegitimizing” and “weakening” the Kabul government while “elevating” the Taliban during the talks.
DOS, which oversees Khalilzad’s office, vehemently denied the allegations.
Mohib’s accusations reportedly prompted President Trump to hold an hour-long classified meeting on Afghanistan with his national security team last weekend.
Taliban narco-jihadis have long claimed they will negotiate with Kabul after the complete withdrawal of foreign forces.
The Taliban, which is fighting to implement strict Islamic laws or Sharia, considers itself the only legitimate government.
Earlier this month, the longest-round of negotiations to date yielded two draft agreements — the U.S. military withdrawal and assurances from the Taliban that Afghanistan will no longer harbor international terrorists like al-Qaeda.
Pentagon officials have reportedly been working on a plan to withdraw all 14,000 American troops from Afghanistan within three to five years, a proposal already rejected by the Taliban terrorists who want all foreign troops out within months.
The Trump administration has indicated that it plans to leave behind a residual counterterrorism force to ensure promises are kept by the Taliban, which generates most of its funding from deadly opium and heroin that is partly fueling the record number of lethal drug overdoses in the United States.
Despite U.S. insistence, Taliban terrorists have declined to allow the Ghani administration to participate in the talks and have also refused to agree to a ceasefire with the American backed and trained-Afghan security forces.
The Taliban has intensified attacks against the Afghan troops and civilians and seized more territory amid the ongoing peace negotiations.
Pentagon officials have long described victory as ensuring Afghanistan is never again used as a haven for terrorists seeking to attack the American homeland — one of the promises made by the Taliban.
According to several assessments, the Afghanistan war has been at a stalemate for years.
Acknowledging that a military victory is unattainable at this juncture, the Trump administration has made the negotiated political reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban the primary tenet of its strategy to end the war.
While the Taliban wants all American troops out, it wants to keep the flow of U.S. taxpayer funds into Afghanistan uninterrupted.
In recent months, the Trump administration has stepped up its peace-seeking efforts to end the war that has come at a tremendous blood and treasure cost to Americans — $1 trillion, 2,278 U.S. military fatalities, and 20,431 injuries.
Some Afghan and Trump administration officials fear Mohib’s criticism will only hinder the fragile peace process. The top Afghan official claimed he delivered the message last week with Ghani’s blessing.
The Trump administration has repeatedly insisted that there will be no final deal without the inclusion of the Ghani administration.