Zalmay Khalilzad will always be remembered as American’s man in Afghanistan, although his abode is in Washington, or in any other part of the United States. For people in the diplomatic trade once you say Khalilzad Kabul comes up; it was an imaginary association up till now.
The American naturalized Afghani, who made himself a career in the US State Department, befriending George W. Bush, kicking out the Taliban in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and just recently letting them back in, has just announced he is quitting his post.
Although very little news is coming out about why he is suddenly leaving the morsels of information, suggest he is not too pleased with the “chaotic” why the US pulled out of Afghanistan as engineered by non-other than the new American president in the White House Joe Biden.
But this is really a bit confusing since it is Khalilzad, who was brought back in by the now ex-president Donald Trump to solve the Afghan situation, to end the fratricidal civil war there that resembled a “killing machine” and bring peace to the country. It was Khalilzad who got the Afghan government to sit with the Taliban and iron out a peace deal in Doha that was signed and sealed in 2020. The idea was for both Afghani sides to sit together and produce a blueprint for Afghanistan in a joint government that would bring.
Here’s what different news agencies around the world had to say about him: As quoted by the Turkish-based the Anadolu news agency Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked Khalilzad for his efforts and extended his “gratitude for his decades of service to the American people.” Thomas West, Khalilzad’s former deputy, will assume the role of Special Representative for Afghanistan, Blinken added.
“Special Representative West, who served on then-Vice President Biden’s national security team and on the National Security Council staff, will lead diplomatic efforts, advise the Secretary and Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, and coordinate closely with the U.S. Embassy Kabul presence in Doha on America’s interests in Afghanistan,” he continued.
Khalilzad served as the top US envoy for Afghanistan under both the Trump and Biden administration and was the architect behind the bilateral deal that President Donald Trump struck with the Taliban in which Washington agreed to exit Afghanistan by May 1 in exchange for the Taliban’s vow not to attack US forces.
The agreement was widely criticized for ignoring the since deposed Afghan government, and Biden extended the withdrawal deadline through August. Khalilzad’s decision to step down from office comes a month and a half after the US completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan amid the Taliban offensive that led to the government’s ouster. The hectic exit saw the US ferry over 120,000 people out of Afghanistan as the Taliban laid claim to the capital, Kabul.
In turn UPI pointed out Khalilzad, a career diplomat, has served under several administrations and was the ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005, the ambassador to Iraq between 2005 and 2007 and the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations from 2007 to 2009. Under the Trump administration, Khalilzad was tasked with negotiating the end of the United States’ longest war with the Taliban in the Qatari capital of Doha, a process that produced the historic peace deal that both sides signed in February of last year that preceded the United States’ military withdrawal from Afghanistan, which was completed in late August.
On the other hand the Iranian-based Press TV wrote this: Khalilzad resigned following the American military’s humiliating defeat in the twenty-year war in the country and the failure of the so-called peace process. Khalilzad told the US Secretary of State Blinken that it was “the right time” to leave, “at a juncture when we are entering a new phase in our Afghanistan policy.”
“Tomorrow, I step down from my position as the Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation. I decided that now is the right time to do so, at a juncture when we are entering a new phase in our Afghanistan policy,” he wrote in the letter, which was obtained by Politico and quoted by the Iranian website.
Khalilzad admits “the political arrangement between the Afghan government and the Taliban did not go forward as envisaged. The reasons for this are too complex and I will share my thoughts in the coming day and weeks.”
“Going forward, I plan to contribute to the discussion and debate about not only what happened but what should be done next,” he continued.
On the whole quotes on the social media was pleased to see Khalilzad go. One was frank saying Zalmay Khalilzad played a huge role in the making of the Afghan disaster along with Afghan leaders, and of course Pakistan.
Another said history won’t remember him kindly. This chapter of Afghanistan has been most brutal & disastrous for humanity. Surrendering Afghanistan to the Taliban terrorists and abandoning the innocents. The lists of comments go on. His resignation has encouraged many to speak up.
One adds the US government should conduct a thorough investigation of his backdoor deals with the “Taliban crime syndicate,” adding that for the “for the past 3 years he betrayed both Afghanistan and the US by legitimizing a terrorist group and giving too many concessions without anything tangible in return.