Former Afghan VP urges Ghani to release US peace talk tapes
Afghanistan's former vice president has urged Ashraf Ghani, the country’s ousted president, to release tapes of his conversations with US diplomats to counter claims that Afghan officials were to blame for the Taliban's takeover of the country.
Making recorded conversations in the lead up to the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul public would challenge assumptions that it was the fault of the previous government, former VP Amrullah Saleh wrote in a tweet on Tuesday.
Saleh’s plea followed statements by former US representative Zalmay Khalilzad and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that agreements were made before the insurgents reached Kabul for a peaceful transfer of power from Ghani's government to the Taliban - before the then Afghan president suddenly fled the country.
“I call on @ashrafghani to release the tapes (esp Jul/Aug) of the conversations with Khalilzad & other relevant foreign diplmt on peace process to counter the growing propaganda that it was & is all the Afghan fault,” wrote Saleh.
“I know these tapes exist & hope you have them,” he added.
I call on @ashrafghani to release the tapes ( esp Jul/Aug) of the conversations with Khalilzad & other relevant foreign diplmts on peace process to counter the growing propaganda that it was & is all the Afghan fault. I know these tapes exist & hope you have them. This z d time.— Amrullah Saleh (@AmrullahSaleh2) November 2, 2021
Khalilzad - who negotiated the US withdrawal from Afghanistan ending 20-years of operations in the country - told CNN that when the Taliban were close to Kabul, he tried one more time to secure a peaceful transfer of power. The US wanted “an inclusive government,” he said, “and the [Taliban] agreed not to enter Kabul” while a transfer took place.
Khalilzad said Ghani agreed to the deal, “but he then went away”.
Blinken said on CBS news that Ghani was prepared to take part in a power transfer if the Taliban went along with it, but he left the country "very next day".
Ghani left Afghanistan abruptly as the Taliban entered Kabul on 15 August. The 72-year-old former president said it was his security team who pressed him to leave so that he would not be captured and killed.
The departure was slammed by Afghan MPs as “gutless”. Ghani maintains “it was the only way” and apologised that he “could not make it end differently”.
Ghani’s fall from power followed the Taliban’s lightning offensive over the summer and the withdrawal of US and NATO troops in a scheduled military exit. Khalilzad claims Ghani never believed all US troops would leave Afghanistan.
In a follow-up tweet, Saleh said conversations in July and August were recorded between Afghan and US officials when “Khalilzad’s deceptions became apparent”.
“Now that salt is sprinkled on the wounds of our nation every day, it is necessary to publish these conversations so that whoever is in his grief will turn black,” Saleh added.