Zalmay Khalilzad Battles Critics in U.S. and Afghanistan


The battle ended on Mr. Khalilzad’s watch, however not on the phrases he had hoped. Instead of the power-sharing authorities he imagined might restrain the Taliban, the militant group has assumed complete management over the nation, which is now dealing with financial collapse and famine.

“Zal emerges from this as a quite tragic figure,” mentioned Eric S. Edelman, a former nationwide safety official who labored with Mr. Khalilzad underneath Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

As colleagues on the Pentagon in the late Eighties, Mr. Edelman and Mr. Khalilzad helped drive U.S. coverage in assist of mujahedeen fighters in Afghanistan resisting Soviet occupiers. During the Bush administration, they once more backed resistance fighters, who this time had been battling the Taliban because the United States invaded in 2001.

“He did a lot to create a modern, post-Taliban independent state,” Mr. Edelman mentioned of Mr. Khalilzad. “And then to be in part the handmaiden of its demise — I don’t know how you can see that as other than tragic.”

Mr. Khalilzad had been out of presidency for years when, through the 2016 presidential marketing campaign, he launched Mr. Trump for a overseas coverage speech hosted by a suppose tank with which he was affiliated. A lifelong Republican, Mr. Khalilzad didn’t endorse Mr. Trump, noting his “provocative views.” But the introduction earned him good will in Mr. Trump’s internal circle.

Then, in 2018, Mr. Khalilzad instructed officers in the Trump administration that Taliban representatives had been in speaking a few peace settlement. That September, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appointed him envoy for “the singular mission” of “developing the opportunities to get the Afghans and the Taliban to come to a reconciliation.”

In follow, nonetheless, the talks targeted on the phrases of the U.S. withdrawal that Mr. Trump sought. Eighteen months and a whole bunch of hours of bartering in Doha, the Qatari capital, produced an settlement in February 2020 underneath which the United States agreed to withdraw all its troops and the Taliban promised to halt assaults on American forces and by no means harbor terrorist teams.