Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley admitted Tuesday to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Taliban repeatedly violated its withdrawal agreement with the U.S.
U.S. negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban Deputy Emir Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar signed the agreement in Doha, Qatar, in February 2020. As part of the Doha agreement, which the internationally-recognized Afghan government did not sign, the Taliban agreed to prevent al-Qaida and other terrorist groups from using Afghan soil to plan terrorist attacks against the U.S. The group also promised to follow international migration and refugee law.
“Under the Doha agreement, the U.S. would begin to withdraw its forces, contingent upon the Taliban meeting certain conditions, which would lead to a political agreement between the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan,” Milley testified Tuesday.
“There were seven conditions applicable to the Taliban and eight conditions applicable to the U.S. While the Taliban did not attack U.S. forces, which was one of the conditions, it failed to fully honor any, any, other condition under the Doha agreement, and perhaps most importantly, for U.S. national security, the Taliban has never renounced al-Qaida or broken its affiliation with them. We, the United States, adhered to every condition.”
The Taliban never adhered to the counter-terrorism provisions of the Doha agreement, according to a United Nations (UN) report. The report, published in June 2020, found that the “Taliban regularly consulted with [al-Qaida] during negotiations with the United States and offered guarantees that it would honour their historical ties.”
Even after the UN report, key Trump administration officials claimed that the Taliban would honor the withdrawal agreement.
“There are less than a couple hundred al-Qaida left in Afghanistan. The vast majority of their senior leadership is no longer on the battlefield,” then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed on Sept. 11, 2020.
“There are a series of commitments that the Taliban have made. We have every expectation that they will follow through on them,” he said at the time, although he acknowledged that withdrawal was “conditioned on them executing their obligations under the agreement.”
The Trump administration also aided the Taliban in operations against ISIS-K, according to a Washington Post report, providing intelligence and air support.