President Ashraf Ghani, who once hoped to win reelection as a champion and orchestrator of peace after 17 years of grueling conflict, has been denied that role at Taliban insistence. Some of his rivals, meanwhile, have held high-profile meetings with the insurgents, and U.S. officials have held weeks of closed-door sessions with them abroad.
Frustrated at being outmaneuvered on all sides, Ghani has lashed out at U.S. officials through his national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib. Mohib stunned Washington last week by saying a U.S.-Taliban deal would “dishonor” fallen U.S. troops and by denouncing Zalmay Khalilzad, the Trump administration’s peace envoy, as an American “viceroy” with ambitions to head an interim Afghan government.
In response, the State Department said Mohib was summoned by a senior U.S. official and told that his attacks on Khalilzad could hurt bilateral relations and the peace process. According to reports in the Afghan and U.S. media, Mohib, who previously served as Ghani’s ambassador to Washington, was also barred from future dealings with U.S. officials.