Donald Trump's South Asia strategy is working; Taliban now knows that it cannot win militarily, says Mike Pompeo

Washington: US President Donald Trump's South Asia strategy is working, his top diplomat, Mike Pompeo asserted on Monday stating that many of the Taliban militants now see that they cannot win militarily. “The president's strategy is indeed working. Our South Asia strategy has sent a clear message to the Afghan peoples and its security services that we will support them as they continue to fight to defend their country and their people,” Pompeo said at a joint news conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul.

Trump had announced the policy in 2017. Pompeo made an unannounced stop in Kabul on his way from Vietnam to Brussels to attend the NATO Summit later this week. On the sidelines of the summit, Trump will have a meeting with NATO member countries on Afghanistan.

File image of CIA director Mike Pompeo. AP

File image of CIA director Mike Pompeo. AP

“The strategy has sent a clear message to the Taliban – they cannot wait us out – and we are beginning to see the results both on the battlefield where the Taliban's momentum is slowing and in the prospects for peace with them,” Pompeo said. During his talks with Ghani, Pompeo said the two leaders had a chance to discuss the progress Afghanistan is making to prepare for elections this fall. “We support the Afghan government and security forces as they work to ensure safe, credible, and transparent polls that reflect the will of the Afghan people. We call on all of our partners to continue this support,” he said.

Responding to a question on the peace process, Pompeo said an element of the progress is the capacity that they now have to believe that there is hope that many of the Taliban now see that they can't win on the ground militarily. “They're deeply connected to President Trump's strategy. We saw this. We saw what happened. We saw the Taliban respond to the ceasefire that President Ghani put in place. These are linked issues,” he said.

“The progress we've made in the South Asia strategy in increasing the size and the capability of the Afghan security forces, in strengthening the reforms inside the Afghan government, the work that we have done to demonstrate to the Taliban that the continuation of fighting will lead them to a bad outcome, not one that's in the best interests of the people in the regions where they operate – each of those are hallmarks of real progress,” the top American diplomat said.

At the same time, he acknowledged that there is still a great deal of work to do. “That is certainly the case, and the American role will be important in this. But we can't run the peace talks. We can't settle this from the outside,” he said. This will be settled by the Afghan people coming together, their cumulative realisation that living together in harmony and peace, treating each other with dignity, which was seen during the ceasefire and we have seen it in the aftermath. The US, he said is very hopeful that that will lead to a successful reduction in violence as we move into the elections. “We're counting on all the actors in the region to be supportive of that. The Pakistanis too need to understand that they need to have a set of elections that do not have violence. We're counting on all of the actors in the region to support this process and make sure the Afghan people can have their voices heard during these elections,” he said.  “We think each of those is greatly increased as a result of the strategy that President Trump laid out now almost 12 months ago,” he said.


Updated Date: Jul 10, 2018 10:56 AM

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