KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s much-vaunted meeting with his US counterpart has proved to be a “damp squib” amid Washington’s failure to promise future military support, several MPs said on Saturday.
MPs were hoping for a US pledge to ensure the Kabul government’s survival after all foreign troops leave Afghanistan on Sept. 11.
President Joe Biden held his first face-to-face meeting with Ghani at the White House on Friday amid a phased withdrawal of troops from the war-torn country that will end Washington’s 20-year involvement in Afghanistan.
Ghani has for long sought an audience with Biden, hoping that the US leader would either abandon the total pullout of troops or provide aerial support for local forces to limit the Taliban’s territorial gains.
Instead, the US president urged Afghans on Friday “to decide their future,” saying that it was “time for Washington to step back,”
Biden also promised economic support to ensure stability and peace in Afghanistan.
Ghani said that he “respects and supports” Biden’s “historic” decision to withdraw US troops.
However, Afghan officials say that the “dialogue without deliverance” has failed to guarantee the Kabul government’s survival.
“The power monopoly, infighting, corruption and other problems have harmed the image of the (Afghan) government not only at home but also on the international stage. Ghani went to America, but achieved nothing,” Sediq Ahmad Osmani, an MP from northern Parwan, told Arab News on Saturday.
He said that Biden’s promise of humanitarian and diplomatic aid to Afghanistan “was aimed at showing the world that the US, morally at least, was not abandoning the country after the troops leave.”
Washington hopes to see a new, all-inclusive government in Afghanistan, based on an agreement that helped to launch Afghan peace talks in Doha nine months ago.
Abdul Hafeez Mansoor, a government-appointed delegate for the Qatar talks with the Taliban, told Arab News that he saw “nothing new” in Washington’s commitment to Kabul.
Ahead of the Afghan leader’s visit to Washington, Taliban deputy chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said that the group was committed to the resumption of peace talks and had no interest in a “monopoly of power.”
He vowed to protect women’s and minority rights once in power.
The Taliban have taken control of more than 30 districts in the past month, adding to fears that the militants will regain power by force.
In recent weeks, several US officials have warned that Ghani’s government could collapse within six months if the Taliban continues its advances and Kabul is deprived of Washington’s military support.
Ghani, who was accompanied by a delegation including Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, met with US politicians and officials on Friday.
Experts said that the meeting was akin to a “couple going through a divorce.”
“The Afghan delegation went to DC without any new solutions or propositions regarding peace. The US has been saying for more than two years they want a political settlement in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s neighbors have been saying this, too,” Torek Farhadi, an adviser to former President Hamid Karzai, told Arab News on Saturday.
“Biden received the Afghan leaders with respect, but it was like a meeting of a divorcing couple who see two different realities,” he added.
Farhadi highlighted Ghani’s failed attempts to “pressure” Biden regarding the early exit of US troops from Afghanistan.
“Afghan leaders are returning to Kabul without anything that could rescue their political careers. The political class in Kabul remains fractured. Young Afghans keep fighting and losing their lives after being sent to war by elderly leaders with no credible plans for peace,” he said.
Ahmad Samin, a former adviser to the World Bank, said: “Biden made it clear that the future of Afghanistan is in the hands of Afghans. This trip showed that the days of providing a blank check are over and that future assistance will be on humanitarian grounds,” he told Arab News.