U.S. Backs Ghani’s Unilateral Ceasefire in Afghanistan

The U.S. military and embassy in Afghanistan will support the Afghan government’s unilateral declaration of a weeklong ceasefire, they said on Thursday. Ashraf Ghani’s government announced the ceasefire, which will begin June 12 and coincide with the Eid-al-Fitr holiday, after a religious body that the Taliban recently attacked, the Ulema Council, denounced the insurgent group. The Taliban, which has gained in strength despite Donald Trump’s mini-surge, have yet to respond—something a senior State Department official flipped around to reporters, emphasizing that the Taliban hadn’t rejected it yet.

“With respect to the Taliban,” the senior official said Thursday, “they have an opportunity here to respond to calls from a wide cross-section of Afghans asking for a reduction in violence, which we think would show that it’s possible, in the course of this long conflict, to reduce violence. Obviously, it would be better in the long term if a cease-fire stemmed from a negotiated political settlement, but a temporary ceasefire for an Eid certainly doesn’t preclude that possibility down the road and hopefully helps contribute to realizing that objective.” —Spencer Ackerman