'Peace Deal' for Afghanistan Departure?

U.S. and Taliban agree in principle to a peace deal that could lead to the withdrawal of American troops.

Thomas Gallatin · Jan. 28, 2019

Is the end of the U.S.‘s nearly two-decades-long war in Afghanistan finally in sight? The New York Times reported this morning that a draft framework for a peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban had been agreed to in principle. “We have a draft of the framework that has to be fleshed out before it becomes an agreement,” stated Zalmay Khalilzad, the American envoy. He added, “The Taliban have committed, to our satisfaction, to do what is necessary that would prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a platform for international terrorist groups or individuals.”

Since 2010, the U.S. and the Taliban have been attempting to broker a peace deal that would effectively allow for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. This latest news represents a significant step forward in seeing that goal realized — on the basis of conditions on the ground, not Barack Obama’s electoral timetable. However, it’s far from a done deal. As Afghan President Ashraf Ghani noted, “We want peace … soon, but we want it with prudence. Prudence is important so we do not repeat past mistakes.”

The Taliban has in principle agreed to never allow Afghanistan to become “a platform for international terrorist groups or individuals,” like al-Qaida. We’ll believe it when we see it. The second U.S. demand, which Taliban leadership is still considering, is to enter into a cease-fire agreement with the Afghan government. The U.S. has made it clear that American troops will not withdraw without a cease-fire. That the Taliban is even considering this is significant given that it has long refused to engage in any talks with the Afghan government.

There is no timeframe set for a potential withdrawal of U.S. troops — and there shouldn’t be — but there may be a light appearing at the end of this long Afghan tunnel. The important issue for Americans is to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a threat to the U.S. again. Unfortunately for the people of Afghanistan, the threat posed by the Taliban continues.

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