U.S. Searches for Peace Deal with Taliban in Afghanistan

In recent months, the United States has made a push to remove its troops from Afghanistan after invading over seventeen years ago. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. invaded to overthrow the Taliban, an insurgent group who controlled Afghanistan at the time. Under the Taliban’s rule, Al-Qaeda, the group responsible for 9/11, was allowed to take refuge in Afghanistan. Quickly after the U.S. invasion, the Taliban was overthrown and a democratic government was established in Afghanistan.

However, ever since the Taliban was forced out of power, they have been fighting a constant war against the U.S.-backed government. US troops have been in Iraq for almost eighteen years, making it the longest war in American history. Now, the United States has indicated it is looking for diplomatic solutions to end the conflict.

In the past few weeks, a team of U.S. negotiators led by Zalmay Khalilzad made a significant breakthrough in negotiations. The United States has agreed in principle to remove 14,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan and in exchange the Taliban will engage in talks with the Afghanistan government, which they previously refused to do. The Taliban has also agreed to never again aid terrorists within Afghanistan.

Although this agreement represents unprecedented progress towards peace, it has not been officially agreed to as complications remain. The biggest of these is the Taliban refuses to recognize the Afghanistan Government as legitimate, decreasing the likelihood of a joint Afghanistan-Taliban government.

Additionally, there is concern that once U.S. troops leave Afghanistan the Taliban will renege and attempt to again grab power in Afghanistan. Despite this concern, President Trump has been a vocal supporter of the removal of troops. In fact, Trump has already begun to pull some troops from the country.

Military officials have advised against an immediate withdrawal, fearing that without a U.S. presence the negotiations could again descend into civil war. And without the support of the U.S. military, the government in Kabul may not be able to hold off Taliban forces.

Although these worries mean negotiations will continue with caution, both the U.S. and the Taliban have remained open to a peace deal, hoping to end almost two decades of bloodshed and violence.