Illustration for article titled No Camp David Photo Op With the Taliban Ahead of 9/11 Anniversary, Trump Says
Photo: Chip Somodevilla (Getty Images)

A significant amount of news coverage was devoted Sunday to a bizarre Twitter thread President Donald Trump posted the previous day about Afghanistan.

The tweets announced that Trump was scrapping secret meetings scheduled for Sunday and Monday at Camp David with the leaders of both the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan.


Trump’s Twitter feed also said that peace negotiations, which had been ongoing for a year, would come to an end due to the Taliban’s continued attacks in Afghanistan. One of those attacks, a car bombing on Thursday in Kabul, killed Sgt. 1st Class Elis Angel Barreto Ortiz, a 34-year-old paratrooper from Puerto Rico.

“Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday. They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to…an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people,” Trump—or someone using his account—tweeted. “I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations.”


The first question that arises from these tweets, given Trump’s record of lying about everything, is whether such a meeting had even been scheduled. The backstory of the nine rounds of negotiations that have taken place between Taliban leaders and U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is complicated, to say the least.

Last week, Khalilzad announced that a peace agreement had been reached “in principle” that would allow the U.S. to begin withdrawing a first round of troops from Afghanistan once the deal was signed. The remaining U.S. troops would be withdrawn in about 16 months, a key campaign pledge of former candidate Trump.


After that announcement, however, the Taliban carried out several brutal attacks, including two car bombings in Kabul. And while the idea of meeting Trump in the U.S. had been proposed, according to The New York Times, it’s not clear if the Taliban had actually accepted and agreed on a date.

Additionally, the U.S.-Taliban agreement was not subject to negotiations with Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, who announced on Friday—before Trump’s tweets—that he was canceling a trip to Washington planned for this week. So, was the agreement a non-starter before Trump’s tweets yesterday? I have no idea.


Also weird was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appearing on all five Sunday news shows to say this:


That brings me to my next question, which is much simpler: Based on optics alone, who would schedule a meeting with the Taliban at Camp David just two days ahead of the 18th anniversary of 9/11? (OK, to be fair, maybe this guy would.)

Because there’s a tweet for everything, let’s check in with what Donald Trump would have said about that if it were Obama negotiating with the Taliban (never mind bringing them to Camp David):


Here’s a good take:


Bizarre, indeed.

Weekend Editor, Splinter

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