26 January 2019   Leave a comment

The US and the Taliban are engaged in serious negotiations to end the US military role in Afghanistan. The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 after the attacks on the US on 11 September 2001 to capture the mastermind of those attacks, Osama bin Laden. That objective was finally reached in May 2011 with the death of bi Laden in Pakistan, but the war in Afghanistan has dragged on with no resolution in sight. The negotiations are being conducted in Qatar between Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation and Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of Taliban’s cofounders. Baradar had been captured in 2010 in Pakistan but was released from prison last October at the request of Khalilzad.

It is no secret that US President Trump wants to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and these talks may lead to that outcome since US withdrawal has been a key demand of the Taliban for a number of years. A US withdrawal would likely lead to a lot of turmoil in Afghanistan and would be regarded as a betrayal by many. On the other hand, the war has been going on for more than 17 years. Reuters assesses the current strategic situation in the country:

“Despite the presence of U.S.-led foreign forces training, advising and assisting their Afghan counterparts 17 years after the U.S.-led an invasion to drive them from power, the Taliban controls nearly half of Afghanistan.

“Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said last week that 45,000 members of the country’s security forces had been killed since he took office in 2014.”

Reuters is reporting that there is a draft agreement for US forces to leave in 18 months after the agreement is signed. This possibility would be an extraordinary development, but, as is also the case with the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, how the withdrawal is handled is of critical importance.

The political turmoil in Venezuela was apparently preceded by some very sophisticated diplomacy by Juan Guaido. According to the Voice of America:

“In mid-December, Guaido quietly traveled to Washington, Colombia and Brazil to brief officials on the opposition’s strategy of mass demonstrations to coincide with Maduro’s expected swearing-in for a second term on Jan. 10 in the face of widespread international condemnation, according to exiled former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, an ally….

“The decision to confront Maduro directly was only possible because of strong support from the Trump administration, which led a chorus of mostly conservative Latin American governments that immediately recognized Guaido.

“It was no small diplomatic feat, given the mistrust of the U.S. in Latin America due to the painful memories stemming from U.S. military interventions in the region during the Cold War.”

The situation in Venezuela remains in flux. We still have to see what the Venezuelan military does.

Posted January 26, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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