Taliban threatening to kill Americans

10 sep. 2019 English Section
Adelina Toader (translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)
Taliban threatening to kill Americans

The Taliban threatened the United States that they would "make them suffer more than anybody else", after the sudden decision of American president Donald Trump to break up the negotiations concerning the end of the Afghanistan war. Nevertheless, both parties - the US and Afghanistan - have left the door open for a future resumption of negotiations, according to AFP.

Donald Trump announced that he has invited the Taliban leaders and Afghani president Ashraf Ghani for talks, on Sunday, to his presidential residence in Camp David, concerning a potential agreement which stipulated that the United States would withdraw thousands of soldiers and thus ending the longest war.

State secretary Mike Pompeo said in a televised interview that he didn't rule out the resumption of the talks, but he said that the United States needed a"significant commitment" from the Taliban.

"I am not pessimistic", said Pompeo on NBC. "I've seen Taliban do and say things they weren't allowed to do before."

He also told ABC: "I think that the Taliban will change their behavior and will recommend the things we have been talking about for months".

Also, the US state secretary has asked the Taliban to drop their refusal to negotiate with the internationally recognized government of Afghan president Ashraf Ghani.

Mike Pompeo further said that Donald Trump has not yet decided whether he would go ahead with a withdrawal, which as part of the draft agreement involves the withdrawal of the approximately 13,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan next year.

The State Secretary has warned that the United States "will not reduce pressure" on the Taliban, and said that the American forces have killed more than 1,000 insurgents in the last ten days alone.

American negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad, who spent a year meeting with the Taliban, said that Trump showed "neither experience, nor patience".

"Americans will be hurt more than anybody else" by Trump's decision, the spokesperson of the group led by Zabihullah Mujahid warned.

He added, however, that the Taliban still believed that "the American side would return to that position in the talks" of the discussions that seek "the complete end of the occupation".

Ghani's office, whose government the Taliban reject as illegitimate, cautiously praised the "sincere efforts of its allies", after Trump canceled the summit.

The Afghan presidency, in a statement, also insisted that "real peace cannot be obtained unless the Taliban stop killing Afghans and accept the ceasefire and the face-to-face talks with the Afghan government".

Trump's proposal came a few weeks before the presidential elections in Afghanistan, and raised concerns that the Taliban would strengthen their violence campaign to disturb the vote.

Even though Donald Trump enjoys dramatic gestures, such as the meeting with North-Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the idea of inviting the Taliban leaders on American soil shocked Washington.

The potential discussions even upset some of Trump's allies, who noted that the Taliban would be coming to visit the US three days prior to the 18th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, which led to the invasion of the US in Afghanistan.

"Camp David is the place where American leaders met to plan the US retaliation after Al-Qaeda, backed by the Taliban, killed 3,000 Americans on September 11th. No member of the Taliban should set foot there, ever", daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney posted.

Democrat presidential candidate Julian Castro told CNN: "I am still waiting for the confirmation that a real, physical meeting has been planned for Camp David", adding: "It is very strange to invite a terrorist organization like this one at Camp David."

Islamabad has asked both parties to "engage again towards finding the negotiated peace of the ongoing political settlement process".

The foreign affairs said, in a statement: "Pakistan is looking for an optimized involvement following the latest talks resumption".

Afghanistan's neighbor, Iran - which has historically opposed the Taliban and has tense relations with the United States - said that it was "concerned".

Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign affairs minister, replied: "The defeated foreigners need to leave, especially since the foreigners can exploit the situation, bringing renewed bloodshed."

Donald Trump said, last Saturday: "If they are incapable of accepting a truce during these very important peace talks, then they probably won't have the means to negotiate a significant agreement".

According to Laurel Miller, the representative of American diplomacy for Afghanistan and Pakistan between 2013 and 2017, the project of a secret meeting with the Taliban leaders "is a great surprise".

"Why cancel it because of a bloody attack in Kabul, once the Taliban have recently multiplied their attacks? It is not clear", the current Asia head of the International Crisis Group, an organization for the prevention of international conflicts.

One possible explanation, according to the analyst of the Wilson Center Michael Kugelman think tank, is that Donald Trump "needed a pretext to withdraw from an agreement that can't work". "He found one", Kugelman said on Twitter.

In Kabul, the head fo the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies Davoud Moradian also blamed the failure on Washington's strategy, which, in his opinion, "gave the impression that the United States were in a rush to leave, regardless of whether the agreement could be applied or not".

Donald Trump, who has long thought that the war has cost the US too many lives and too much money, and who has promised "to end the endless wars", has clearly announced that he wanted to call the troops home before running for his second term, in November 2020.

JPMorgan creates an index for Trump 

JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts have created an index to gauge the impact of Donald Trump's Twitter posts on the US interest rates, which they say are on an upward trend.

The "Volfefe" index, named after Trump's "covfefe" tweet, suggests that the president's posts have a statistically significant impact on the Treasury yields. The number of tweets which have caused market movements has increased in the last month, especially those which contained terms such as "China", "billion", "products", "democrats" and "great", are likely to affect prices, analists say.

Analysts like Josh Younger and Munier Salem said: "The commercial and monetary policy have become a focus point for the executive, and everything random feelings to apparently formal intentions have been disseminated instantaneously worldwide through that social media platform". "As a result, a large range of assets from stocks with one name to macro products have seen their dynamic depending on the tweets of the president."

Donald Trump has posted on average approximately 10 tweets a day since the beginning of 2016, with 10,000 tweets after his appointment as president of the US in 2017, according to the analysis by JPMorgan. Trump's Twitter activity reached a level of five tweets a day, near his official appointment, but has increased substantially since the end of 2018 - as the biggest number of tweets in the four has been posted in the last months.

JPMorgan specialists have analyzed the returns of the Treasury five minutes after Trump made a post, and the index shows the probability that the market would undergo modifications for a month after his post.

Analysts have found that the Volfefe index can represent "a measurable fraction" of the moves in the implied volatility, seen in interest rate derivatives.

JPMorgan is not the only one that has tried to calculate the market impact of the President's Twitter posts. Analysts of Bank of America Merrill Lynch have published a note last week in which they concluded that on days where President's tweets were frequent, yields tended to negative by 9 basis points, on average. Days with fewer tweets tended to lead to a positive yield of 5 basis points.

Still, the S&P 500 is up over 35% since Trump won the elections of 2016.

The announcement of the negotiations between the US and the Taliban has intensified the attacks in Kabul

Two weeks ago new attacks happened in Kabul, claimed by the Taliban.

One of the attacks targeted the Romanian embassy in Kabul and was claimed by the Taliban, who entered the embassy with inside help. 16 people were killed in the attack and approximately 120 have been hurt, including a guard who was killed and one who was wounded, and the embassy has been completely destroyed.

The attack occurred on Tuesday morning, (September 2nd-3rd), but the information about the attack was late, almost 24 hours after the huge explosion which allowed the terrorists to enter the complex and to open fire. Fighting between the Taliban and the security agents went on for almost the entire night.

Also two weeks ago, a car loaded with explosives was detonated in eastern Kabul, near the area where the foreign diplomatic missions are found, including the US embassy and the NATO mission building, local officials announced, as quoted by Associated Press. The Taliban militants have also claimed that attack, which killed at least 10 people and wounded 42 more.

The attack, the longest in a series of violent incidents which happened two weeks ago, have escalated the fears that the negotiations between the US and the Taliban would not put an end to the daily attacks in Afghanistan. Moreover, after American envoy Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Kabul with news about "a principle agreement", attacks have been happening almost daily.

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