Qatar calls on US, Taliban to abide by Doha accord following Al-Zawahiri killing

The US invasion of Afghanistan, also Washington’s longest war, cost some $2 trillion and at least 71,000 civilian casualties

Qatar called on all parties in Afghanistan to “maintain the gains” of the 2020 Doha Agreement on Tuesday as the US and Taliban continued to trade blame for violations of the accord.

“Qatar is following the developments in Afghanistan; and calls on all parties to maintain the gains of the Doha Agreement and adhere to it, including that Afghanistan should not be a haven for terrorist and extremist individuals and organisations,” said the Gulf state’s foreign ministry.

The statement reiterated the heavyweight mediator’s “firm and supportive” stance for counterterrorism efforts and “all efforts aiming at enhancing international peace and security.”

This comes after Washington and the Taliban exchanged blame over the breaching of the historic accord following the killing of Al Qaeda’s top leader Ayman Al Zawahiri.

The US said on Monday it killed Al Zawahiri in a “precision” US airstrike in Afghanistan more than a decade after the killing of his predecessor Osama bin Laden in 2011 in Pakistan.

The killing of bin Laden took place when current US President Joe Biden served as the vice president under the former Barack Obama administration.

Al Zawahiri, an Egyptian surgeon with a $25 million bounty on his head, is said to be one of the Al Qaeda militants behind the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US.

US State Secretary Antony Blinken accused the Taliban of “grossly” violating the Doha Agreement and the people of Afghanistan by hosting the Al Qaeda leader.

“In the face of the Taliban’s unwillingness or inability to abide by their commitments, we will continue to support the Afghan people with robust humanitarian assistance and to advocate for the protection of their human rights, especially of women and girls,” added Blinken.

The Doha Agreement was signed in Qatar in February 2020 under the former US Donald Trump administration following intensive negotiations in the Gulf state between the warring sides. 

The deal set 1 May 2021 as the deadline for the foreign troop withdrawal from Afghanistan following the 20-year invasion. However, the pull out was on the condition that the Taliban halts its support for terrorist organisations.

The deadline was later revised to 11 September by President Biden without conditions, before changing it to 31 August following the Taliban takeover of Kabul.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that the attack took place on Monday, expressing the interim Afghan government’s condemnation of the attack. 

Mujahid described the ambush as a violation of “international principles” and the 2020 agreement, which stipulated a complete US troop withdrawal.

The precision attack was also the first ‘known’ US strike to occur in Afghanistan since Washington withdrew its troops and diplomats from the country.

The US had carried out a drone attack in Afghanistan just days before it pulled out of the country, killing nine members of one family, including children. 

The US Central Command said its forces were targeting a car containing a suspected ISIS-Khorasan suicide bomber who posed an “imminent” threat to Kabul’s airport at the time.

US officials said the car was parked next to the building where the family were located, expressing no regret over the attack.

The US has not been held accountable for the civilian casualties caused as a result of its strikes in various areas of conflict.

During Obama’s two terms, a total of 563 strikes, predominantly carried out by drones, targeted Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. In comparison, the George Bush administration carried a total of 57 strikes.

Until 2017, Afghanistan had been under frequent US bombardment, in an ‘unreported war’ that saw 1,337 weapons dropped in 2016 alone, a 40% rise on 2015.

The US invasion of Afghanistan, also Washington’s longest war, cost some $2 trillion and at least 71,000 civilian casualties. To date, Afghanistan is still reeling from the impact of the war as the US continues to freeze some of its assets.

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