Is ‘Truce’ a ‘A roadmap to Peace’ in Afghanistan?

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News Desk

A seven-day ‘truce’ agreement between the US and the Taliban in Afghanistan came into effect on late evening of Friday 21st February 2020. ‘Truce’ is an agreement between enemies or opponents to stop fighting or arguing for a certain time. The initial agreement is for a ‘reduction in violence’ (RIV)

If the reduction in violence holds, the U.S. and the Taliban will then sign another peace agreement. This would be followed by all-Afghan peace talks within 10 days. The agreement struck during negotiations between US and Taliban representatives, if maintained, could secure a peace deal that would lead to a withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan.

Though there were Intra-Afghan talks with various political parties in the country earlier, the negotiations (after successful truce) aim to achieve a “comprehensive and permanent cease-fire that ends the Afghan War. U.S. and the Taliban both say they are close to peace after 18 years of war. It is to be mentioned that approximately 3,500 members of the international coalition forces have died since the 2001 invasion, more than 2,300 of them are American.

In 2014, NATO’s international forces, wary of staying in Afghanistan indefinitely, ended their combat mission, leaving it to the Afghan army to fight the Taliban. 2014 was the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since 2001.NATO exit gave the Taliban momentum, as they seized territory and detonated bombs against government and civilian targets.

About 14,000 US troops and some 17,000 troops from 39 NATO allies and partner countries are stationed in Afghanistan in a non-combatant role.

The conflict has killed 157,000 so far, of which 43,000 are civilians. In early 2019, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had revealed that 45,000 members of his armed forces had been killed in the past five years.

Despite the heavy US presence, the Taliban now controls or holds influence over more Afghan territory than at any point since 2001 and has carried out near-daily attacks against military outposts throughout the country.

In 2018, the Taliban was openly active across 70% of Afghanistan.

Taliban still so powerful even after 18 years of fighting USA+ allies
  • Local legitimacy
  • Support from Pakistan and other regional groups
  • Taliban is very rich; It makes about $1.5 Billion per year basically from opium trade ; Afghanistan is the world’s largest opium producer, and most opium poppies used for heroin, are grown in Taliban-held areas.

During the Truce, Afghan forces will keep up normal military operations against other armed groups, such ISIL (ISIS). There would be a communications channel between the US and the Taliban.

Multiple rounds of tense but cordial negotiations have taken place since many years between dark-suited American diplomats and turbaned Taliban (ex)fighters Location – Doha, Qatar.

The current deal has come through after several negotiating sessions in Qatar.

The Taliban and the United States had started discussions about a “roadmap for peace” as early as December 2018, but the negotiations proved immediately complicated, especially due to the refusal of the guerrillas to negotiate with the legitimate government of Kabul.

U.S. envoy was led by Zalmay Khalilzad. He is an Afghan-American diplomat, who has served as the Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation at the State Department since September 2018.

US Presidential Election 2020

President Donald Trump had promised an END to WARS of USA in 2016. In a crucial re-election battle, he may be able to make good on his promise to bring US troops home. The stakes for the Trump administration and for the US are high.

Afghanistan Presidential Elections 2019

Possible hurdles in long lasting peace agreement
  • The Taliban continue to refuse US envoy Khalilzad’s demand that a U.S. counterterrorism force would stay as long as a terrorist threat remains.
  • To ensure that Afghanistan does not return to harsh Islamic rule; preserve the gains made in women’s rights, rule of law, and other issues; or guarantee that Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for terrorists.
  • In the longer term the Taliban is said to have agreed not to host, train or fundraise for international terrorists in the areas they control.
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