Monday marks day three of a 7-day “reduction in violence” between the United States and the Taliban. Assuming things go as planned, negotiators representing the two entities will sign an agreement on February 29; that agreement is expected to phase out American troops in Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban’s guarantee to cease terrorist attacks.
While President Donald Trump has optimistically stated that “we want to make a deal” and that he believes “it’s going to work out,” the details of the formal agreement are anything but clear. Regarding the Taliban, Trump has said: “They want to stop. You know, they’ve been fighting a long time.” And, he has said: “They’re tough people.” He continued by adding, “We’re tough people, but after 19 years, that’s a long time.”
Some have pointed out inherent problems with the proposed agreement. For starters, the Taliban could easily shift blame for an attack onto another terrorist group. Furthermore, Taliban leaders may not even have the ability to prevent attacks by some group members.
There are now approximately 12,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan working to assist Afghan forces fight the Taliban and conducting counterterrorism measures against both al Qaeda and ISIS. During negotiations, the Taliban reportedly insisted on full U.S. withdrawal, while American officials have suggested that a partial reduction, down to 8,600, is appropriate.
This agreement isn’t the first attempt by the Trump administration to reduce hostilities with the Taliban. Last September, the president halted negotiations after a U.S. service member was killed in a car bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the time, “If the Taliban don’t behave, if they don’t deliver on the commitments that they’ve made to us now for weeks and, in some cases, months, president of the United States is not going to reduce the pressure.”
[Image via Jeff J Mitchell – Pool /Getty Images]