US ‘to end contacts’ with Afghan security adviser Mohib following verbal attack

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the 2014 London Conference on Afghanistan, co-hosted by the governments of the UK and Afghanistan. (DFID - UK Department for International Development/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A senior U.S. diplomat has told Afghanistan’s president that U.S. officials will no longer deal with his national security adviser, Reuters news agency reports, citing four knowledgeable U.S. and Afghan sources.

The report published on March 18 said the diplomat told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that the United States was ending contacts with Hamdullah Mohib, who serves as Ghani’s national security adviser.

The State Department declined to comment, and a representative of the Afghan Embassy in Washington could not be reached for comment.

Mohib in a Washington news conference on March 14 accused the U.S. special envoy to his country, Zalmay Khalilzad, of “delegitimizing” the Kabul government by excluding it from peace negotiations with the Taliban and acting like a “viceroy.”

He added that Khalilzad had “his own personal history — he has ambitions in Afghanistan. He was wanting to run for president twice.”

Khalilzad is leading the U.S. negotiating team in talks with Taliban militants in Qatar as Washington attempts to bring an end to the long war in Afghanistan.

Many Afghan officials have been upset by their exclusion from the talks, as the Taliban has refused to talk directly to the Kabul government, claiming it is a puppet of the West.

A U.S. move to end contacts with Mohib would likely increase Kabul’s anger about being left out of the negotiations.

According to the Reuters report, the day after Mohib made his comments, David Hale — the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs — told Ghani by phone that Mohib would no longer be received in Washington and that U.S. civilian and military officials would not do business with him.

“Hale called Ghani and told him that Mohib is no longer welcome in D.C. The U.S. will not deal with him in Kabul or in D.C. any more,” said a former senior Afghan official who requested anonymity.

The former official said he saw the move as an effort to pressure Ghani to fire Mohib.

In mid-February, a planned meeting between Taliban negotiators and Pakistani officials in Islamabad was called off after Afghanistan issued a protest to the UN Security Council over the talks.

In a letter to the Security Council seen by RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal, the Afghan UN mission wrote that the Taliban-Pakistan meeting “constitutes a violation of the national sovereignty of Afghanistan.”

“These engagements, which are taking place under the pretext of support for peace efforts in Afghanistan, are void of any degree of coordination and consultation with the government of Afghanistan,” it said.