[In this March 11 podcast episode of “Seeking Peace: Stories of Women and War” hosted by former chief of staff Melanne Verveer, Secretary Hillary Clinton makes the case that women’s rights must be central to American foreign policy—including, and perhaps most importantly, in Afghanistan.]
Shortly after the U.S. and the Taliban signed a so-called peace agreement, the Taliban resumed their attacks across Afghanistan in 24 of its 34 provinces.
Between February 29th and March 4th, the Taliban conducted 76 attacks. More than 100 Afghan government officials and civilians have been killed in these attacks. In a major attack today in Kabul, 30 civilians were killed and dozens wounded too.
The agreement does not guarantee preserving the human rights of Afghan women or minority ethnic groups, nor does it uphold the Constitution of Afghanistan which establishes a democracy.
At a March 10 UN meeting on the recent deal between the U.S. and the Taliban about the role of Afghan women’s rights, Secretary Hillary Clinton emphasized that “encouraging women’s participation is not only the right thing to do; it is the strategic and necessary thing to do for peace, prosperity and security.”
Clinton argued that Afghans have made it clear that they want peace and an end to violence and casualties.
“It is difficult to have an agreement when you leave out the government of the country that you are expecting to uphold it and live under that agreement,” Clinton said, “and it is difficult to sustain an agreement if you leave out half the population in forging it.”
Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation—who has advocated for Afghan women’s rights for nearly 25 years—states that while U.S. officials did not include any of these critical issues in the U.S.-Taliban agreement:
“It is imperative that they are addressed in the negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The Taliban must not succeed in rolling back the amazing progress that has been made with so much blood and treasure by Afghans, the U.S., and our international allies. The Afghan people, especially Afghan women have made it clear time and again that they do not want to go back to live under the Taliban rule which denies them freedom, human rights, and women’s rights.”
In the midst of these attacks, President Trump called the Taliban leader and described his conversation with him as “good” and said, “We had, actually, a very good talk”—seemingly ignoring the violence by the terrorist group.
In the deal between the U.S. and Taliban, the U.S. commits to withdrawing all of its military forces including the coalition partners, “contractors, all non-diplomatic civilian personnel, private security contractors, trainers, advisors, and supporting services personnel within 14 months.”
In return, the Taliban guarantees that they will not attack U.S. forces during this period and “will prevent the use of the soil of Afghanistan by any group or individual against the security of the United States and its allies.”
The deal placed the Taliban above the elected and internationally recognized Afghan government—led by President Ashraf Ghani, a strong ally of the United States. The exclusion of the Afghan government has further boosted the ego of the Taliban leadership, who claims with this agreement to have won the war and defeated the U.S. and the Afghan government.
In the days leading up to the signing of the agreement, the Taliban and the U.S. agreed on a “reduction of violence,” for seven days. The reduction in violence for the seven day period was to reduce violence by 80 percent.
The Taliban has instead ramped up their attacks on the Afghan civilians and the Afghan government. As part of the agreement, the Taliban had also agreed to lowering violence, but no clarity has been given on how to measure the low violence.
The reality on the ground, however, suggests that they are back in full swing in fighting the Afghan civilians and targeting the Afghan government.