Why Is the United States Upset with Afghan NSA Hamdullah Mohib? | Security Risks Asia Made with Humane Club

Why Is the United States Upset with Afghan NSA Hamdullah Mohib?

Published Mar 20, 2019
Updated Apr 22, 2020

The United States Department of State has declared Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser Mr Hamidullah Mohib who is also the former Ambassador of the country as persona non grata.

Reuters quoting sources indicated that David Hale — the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs informed Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani on telephone that United States officials including military will not entertain Mr Mohib.

“Hale called Ghani and told him that Mohib is no longer welcome in D.C. The U.S. will not deal with him in Kabul or in D.C. any more,” said a former senior Afghan official who requested anonymity was quoted in the Reuters Report.

This comes days after Mr Hale, “summoned” Mohib and told him he rejected the attack on “the U.S. approach to reconciliation.”

Hale was responding to the comments made by Mr Mohib during a news conference in the Afghan Embassy in Washington where he was critical of US Special Envoy for Negotiations with the Taliban Mr Zalmay Khalilzad.

“Knowing Ambassador Khalilzad’s history, his own personal history, he has ambitions in Afghanistan. He was wanting to run for president twice,” Mohib said.

“The perception in Afghanistan and people in government think that perhaps, perhaps all this talk is to create a caretaker government of which he will then become the viceroy.”

“We think either Zal, Ambassador Khalilzad, doesn’t know how to negotiate [or] there may be other reasons behind what he’s doing,” Mohib added.

By now it is well established that the Afghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani and the United States Special Envoy Mr Khalilzad have developed differences mainly due to Kabul’s exclusion from talks with the Taliban.

While Mr Khalilzad has been keeping Kabul in picture, the possibility of postponing the Presidential elections and placing an interim administration in Kabul with the Taliban as a partner is likely to have upset Mr Ghani as well as other Afghan leaders.

Afghan officials were also upset that Khalilzad did not visit Kabul as has been his past practice to brief President Ghani and the CEO Dr Abdullah Abdullah on progress of the talks after the Fifth Round.

Outlining progress on the talks the U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted on March 12. “The conditions for peace have improved. It’s clear all sides want to end the war. Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides.” Another round is expected to be held by end of March but that now seems unlikely

The main disagreements are over four interconnected issues which include Taliban breaking off ties with groups designated as terrorists by Washington, timetable of a U.S. military withdrawal, a cease-fire in Afghanistan, and an intra-Afghan dialogue.

In preparation for the intra Afghan dialogue the Afghan government is holding a Loya Jirga where a consensus on the approach to be adopted will be thrashed out. Set to be held from 17-20 March, this has now been postponed after the Nowroze or New Year on 21 March.

Hamdullah Mohib’s comments possibly hit at the very crux of the deal that has been worked out by Mr Khalilzad with the Taliban at the end of the fifth round of talks – Interim government in Kabul with Taliban as a partner and supervised by the US Special Envoy- thus the use of the word, “Viceroy,” harking back on colonial practice during the British Empire.

Will the United States and Taliban hold the next round of talks this month after this statement by the Afghan NSA who may have pre-empted a final deal on the issue now remains to be seen?

While Mr Mohib will be replaced by the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, he may have served the purpose of ensuring that the plans for an interim government with the Taliban are scuttled.

So now what happens in the US Taliban talks in the next round remains to be seen?