According to reports, a senior US diplomat has told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that US officials will no longer deal with his national security adviser, as cited by media sources.
The decision to end US contacts with Hamdullah Mohib might escalate tensions between the allies over Kabul’s exclusion from negotiations that have mainly focused on a US troop pullout and how the Taliban would stop militant groups from using Afghanistan as a springboard for attacks.
Mohib had last week criticised the current trajectory of US-Taliban talks and on the chief US negotiator, Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad.
The following day, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale told President Ghani by phone that Mohib would no longer be received in Washington and US civilian and military officials would not do business with him, the sources said.
“Hale called Ghani and told him that Mohib is no longer welcome in DC. The US will not deal with him in Kabul or in DC anymore,” said a former senior Afghan official, who like the other sources requested anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity.
Kabul fears that Washington is intent on finalising a US troop pullout to fulfil a vow by President Donald Trump, undermining its ability to reach a political pact with the Taliban that preserves gains, such as women’s education, won since the 2001 US invasion ended the militants’ harsh rule.
Mohib accused US Envoy Khalilzad of giving the Taliban legitimacy while “delegitimising the Afghan government.” He added that Khalilzad perhaps was trying to create “a caretaker government of which he would then become viceroy.”
(Viceroy was the title of the colonial administrator of British-ruled India)
The State Department responded with a strong statement quoting Hale as telling Mohib later Thursday that his comments “only serve to hinder the bilateral relationship and the peace process.”