Afghanistan US envoy quits, after three years of negotiation with Taliban

American Afghanistan envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is resigned this week. The 70-year-old diplomat is succeeded by his right-hand man Tom West. Khalilzad has been closely involved in the US negotiations with the Taliban in recent years.

For example, under former President Trump, he led the Taliban-US peace talks, which eventually led to an agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. When that withdrawal was accompanied by a rapid military advance of the Taliban this fall, he negotiated a โ€œpolitical settlementโ€ with representatives of the extremist movement in Qatar.

Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken thanks Khalilzad for his โ€œtireless commitmentโ€ to the U.S., but the originally Afghan diplomat is also criticized. According to Reuters news agency, government sources say he has become the face of the โ€œdiplomatic failureโ€ of Americans in Afghanistan over the past three years. For example, Khalilzad would not have put sufficient pressure on the Taliban in peace talks.

The envoy would actually stop in May, when the last US troops should have been out of Afghanistan according to the Trump deal. President Biden postponed the withdrawal deadline to September 11 and asked Khalilzad to stay on for the time being.

According to the diplomat, the right time has come to file his resignation. In a letter to Minister Blinken, acknowledging by CNN and AP news agency, among others, he writes that Afghanistans policy is entering a new phase. He also regrets that negotiations with the Taliban and withdrawal from Afghanistan did not go according to plan.