Series Of Suicide Car Bombings In Afghanistan have Halted U.S.-Taliban Peace Talks

Multiple suicide car bomb attacks that were claimed by the Taliban have killed at least 28 and left more than 100 wounded in Kabul as U.S.-Taliban peace talks were underway. Al Jazeera reports that the September 2 attack, which left 16 people dead and more than 100 injured, was the “third attack claimed by the Taliban in as many days in [Afghanistan].

Another explosion occurred days later in Shash Darak, a heavily protected area that contains Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), and the U.S. embassy. This blast took the lives of at least 12, including 10 civilians and two service members, one from the U.S. and the other Romania, with 42 others injured. The U.S. soldier is the fourth killed in Afghanistan over the past few weeks following escalating violence.

Surveillance footage of the attack shows a minivan explode as it turns into a checkpoint and a passerby attempting to escape seconds before the blast is set off. A general manager at the Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital near the bomb site told AFP news that civilians and security forces alike were among the dead and injured.

Hours after, another car bomb killed four civilians outside of an Afghan military base.

The past week has seen attacks on the capital of Baghlan province, Puli Khumri, and in parts of Kunduz, Takhar, Badakhshan, Balkh, Farah, and Herat, according to Al Jazeera. The attack on Puli Khumri killed four civilians and two members of security personnel and left 20 civilians and two security forces injured.

The intensifying violence comes as a result of a U.S.-Taliban peace treaty that hopes to end 18 years of war.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan, told TOLOnews that the draft treaty sees U.S. troops withdrawn from five bases across Afghanistan in less than a year as long as the Taliban follow the conditions set within the agreement.

However, not everyone seems as hopeful regarding the proposed agreement.

Intizar Khadim, a political analyst in Kabul, told Al Jazeera, “The Taliban are imposing their power while a deal is being finalized with them. In their claimed attacks, civilians are dying, they should immediately stop conducting such attacks when there are talks going on to bring peace in Afghanistan.”

The Afghan government, which has been shut out of the peace talks sees the current peace process as futile. “Peace with a group that is still killing innocent people is meaningless,” says President Ashraf Ghani in a statement.

It seems as if the U.S. government is somewhat in agreement with President Ghani’s statement as President Trump made the abrupt decision to cancel Afghan peace talks scheduled for September 8 following the increased bloodshed.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban Spokesman, responded to the cancelled talks by saying, “This will lead to more losses to the U.S.. Its credibility will be affected, its anti-peace stance will be exposed to the world, losses to lives and assets will increase.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emphasized that the peace talks are currently on hold until the U.S. is convinced that the Taliban can follow through the commitments set in the drafted agreement.

If the talks were to successfully resume, the end of the U.S.’ longest war may be near. The U.S. currently has 14,000 forces in Afghanistan and thousands of NATO troops as well. To withdraw thousands of U.S. forces as the draft agreement states would be a huge step forward in resolving the 18-year war that followed Al-Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001 attack and has left hundreds of thousands dead and wounded.