US and Taliban Sign Historic Deal: Will it Last?
The much-awaited peace agreement between the Taliban and the US was finally signed after 18 months of negotiations on Feb. 29 in Doha, Qatar. The deal will pave the way for intra-Afghan dialogue as the country recovers from war.
Details of the Deal
The deal was signed by the U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad alongside the Taliban’s chief negotiator, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo present as the observer. The ceremony for the peace deal started at around 5:15 pm local time in Afghanistan, with the leaders of 30 countries present to witness through an agreement that will see the withdrawal of American forces.
The deal comes after the successful implementation of a week-long reduction in violence in Afghanistan and includes a draw-down of US troops from Afghanistan — a demand the Taliban has been very keen to achieve since the start of the conflict in 2001. The US will pull out 8,600 of 12,000 soldiers in the first 135 days after the sign of the agreement, and effect a complete withdrawal within 14 months.
Trump: ‘a Powerful Path Forward to End the War in Afghanistan and Bring Our Troops Home’
Both the US and the Taliban hailed the deal as a historic landmark, which they say is a major step toward achieving peace in Afghanistan.
“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 bring our troops home,” the US President Donald Trump said in a statement on Friday. “These commitments represent an important step to lasting peace in a new Afghanistan, free from Al Qaeda, ISIS, and any other terrorist group that would seek to bring us harm,” the statement added.
Highlights of the US-Taliban agreement include:
• The US agrees to begin troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, initially reducing to 8,600 troops and with all foreign forces to be withdrawn eventually
• 5,000 Taliban prisoners to be released ahead of intra-Afghan talks
• Intra-Afghan peace talks to start by March 10 if the above condition is met
• Taliban to guarantee that Afghan soil will not be used to launch attacks on the US and its allies
In a joint statement issued on behalf of the US and the Afghan government, it was announced that American forces would withdraw completely from Afghanistan in 14 months, conditional on the Taliban upholding their end of the deal.
As the ceremony began in Doha, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addressed a press conference in Kabul alongside US Secretary of Defense Secretary Mark Esper to express hopes that the Doha peace deal between the Taliban and the United States will lead to enduring peace.
Nonetheless, he emphasized that the US “will not hesitate to nullify” its historic deal with the Taliban if they renege on their security guarantees and commitment to hold talks with the Afghan government. Esper, who was in Kabul, warned that “should the Taliban fail to honor their commitments, they will forfeit their chance to sit with fellow Afghans and deliberate on the future of their country.”
The Taliban called the agreement the “end of occupation”.