21 February 2020   Leave a comment

The US, Afghanistan, and the Taliban have announced a “seven-day reduction in violence” that may lead to a more robust agreement among the parties to a civil war that has been going on since 2001. The US and the Taliban have been conducting negotiations in Qatar for the last two years, and there have been similar glimmers of hope in that period that have not been realized. But the US seems committed to signing a cease-fire with the Taliban on 29 February:

“If deemed a success, the weeklong reduction in violence, or RIV, which will be monitored by U.S. forces, will lead next to the Feb. 29 signing in Qatar between U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban. That deal is aimed at a phased American military withdrawal — including cease-fires and talks between the Taliban and other Afghans on the future of the country.”

We do not know the specifics of the agreement and it may be the case that we will never know the concessions that all sides are promising to make in order to achieve the cease-fire. The Washington Post provides only the rough outlines of a possible agreement:

“What we know from news reports and sources close to the negotiations is that the United States has committed to reducing the U.S. troop level to 8,600, from the current level of about 13,000, in the first 135 days of the agreement. During that time, the Taliban is to renounce al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups and open negotiations with an Afghan committee, including government officials as well as other leaders. If the United States concludes those pledges have been met, the withdrawal will continue; the administration reportedly committed to a full pullout over time.”

There is little to show for the 18 years that the US has been fighting in Afghanistan. The US has poured $2 trillion into the country, but most of that money has been concentrated on the elites in the capital city of Kabul. The Taliban control much of the countryside and there is nothing in the proposed agreement that will alter that reality. The It is difficult to shake the notion that the US is simply looking for a face-saving way to exit the country. The war is one that should never have been fought and it is probably for the best that the US will leave the theater. But the US departure will only highlight the pointlessness of the action, and the costs to the Afghan people of the ill-advised intervention can never be erased.

Posted February 21, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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