US envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad resigns

  |  Tuesday, October 19th, 2021 |  5:28 pm
       

Zalmay Khalilzad, the veteran US envoy whose months of patient hotel-ballroom diplomacy helped end the US war in Afghanistan but failed to prevent a Taliban takeover, resigned on Monday, reports AFP.

In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Khalilzad defended his record but acknowledged that he came up short and said he wanted to step aside during the “new phase of our Afghanistan policy.”

“The political arrangement between the Afghan government and the Taliban did not go forward as envisaged,” he wrote.

“The reasons for this are too complex and I will share my thoughts in the coming day and weeks.”

Born in Afghanistan, the dapper 70-year-old academic turned US diplomat took senior positions as part of the inner circle of former president George W. Bush, becoming the US ambassador to Kabul and then Baghdad and the United Nations.

As former president Donald Trump itched to end America’s longest war in Afghanistan, he brought back Khalilzad, who led exhaustive talks with the Taliban — without including the US-backed government in Kabul.

Those talks led to a February 2020 agreement in which US troops would leave the following year.

But peace negotiations between the Taliban and the leadership in Kabul failed to gain traction, and the government that the United States built over 20 years crumbled within days as US troops left.

UR/