The US wanted to replace Chief Envoy Khalilzad hours before the Taliban takeover in Kabul. US Foreign Minister Antony J. Blinken wanted to replace Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad for the Afghanistan peace and reconciliation talks hours before the Taliban’s forced takeover of Kabul Condition of anonymity.
This was communicated in the last phone call between Blinken and the former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on August 14th. “In our last conversation with President Ghani, Blinken told him that Salman Ahmed would lead the peace effort. Zalmay Khalilzad was not mentioned, ”the source said.
The plan was derailed, however, after the Taliban decided to invade Kabul and carry out a coup that led to Ghani’s flight to prevent “bloodshed and mass murders” in the Afghan capital. Salman Ahmed is a Pakistani-American who is currently the Director of Policy Planning in the Biden Administration, advising the US State Department on national security and foreign policy issues.
Ahmed was even sent to Doha during the Taliban takeover to assist Khalilzad in the negotiations in mid-August. Ahmed was a former member of Obama’s National Security Council and worked at the United Nations with a focus on the peace process.
Frustration with Trump-appointed Khalilzad in the White House had increased as the killings and explosions in Kabul continued and the Taliban returned to their commitments. After the fall of Kabul, Khalilzad was criticized for offering false peace and power-sharing commitments on behalf of the Taliban. Khalilzad also no longer had any credibility with the Ghaniled Afghan government.