President Trump and his administration have signed a landmark peace accord with the Taliban in Afghanistan on Saturday. Laying out a timetable for a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan within 14 months.
The agreement comes after President Trump’s promise to voters to exit from its longest-ever war.
The agreement is expected to lead to a dialogue between the Taliban and the Kabul government. That if successful, could ultimately see an end to the grinding 18-year conflict.
Taliban fighter-turned-deal maker Mullah Baradar signed the accord alongside Washington’s chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad. The signing took place at a gilded desk in a conference room in a luxury Doha hotel.
The pair then shook hands, as people in the room shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest).
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also looked on as the two inked the deal, after urging the insurgents to “keep your promises to cut ties with Al-Qaeda”.
On the eve of the signing, President Donald Trump urged the Afghan people to embrace the chance for a new future.
“If the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan live up to these commitments, we will have a powerful path forward to end the war in Afghanistan and also bring our troops home,” he said.
But the position of the Afghan government, which has been excluded from direct US-Taliban talks, remains unclear. The country is also gripped by a fresh political crisis amid contested election results.
US-Taliban Important first step
The Doha accord was drafted over a tempestuous year of dialogue. Marked by the abrupt cancellation of the effort by Trump in September.
The signing comes after a week-long, partial truce that has mostly held across Afghanistan. Aimed at building confidence between the warring parties and showing the Taliban can control their forces.
The United States and its allies will withdraw all their forces from Afghanistan within 14 months. The Withdraw of troops will only happen if the Taliban abide by the terms of the accord.
After an initial reduction of troops to 8,600 within 135 days of Saturday’s signing, the US and its partners “will complete withdrawal of all remaining forces from Afghanistan” within 14 months.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg heralded the agreement as a “first step to lasting peace”.
“The way to peace is long and hard. We have to be prepared for setbacks, spoilers, there is no easy way to peace but this is an important first step,” the Norwegian former prime minister told reporters in Kabul.
Since the US-led invasion that ousted the Taliban after the September 11, 2001 attacks, America has spent more than $1 trillion in fighting and rebuilding in Afghanistan.
Consequently about 2,400 US soldiers have been killed in this longest-ever war. Even more an unknown tens of thousands of Afghan troops, Taliban fighters and Afghan civilians have also been killed.
Source: Asia Times