It is a first step towards peace in Afghanistan. The United States promises to withdraw its troops completely within 14 months.
More than 18 years after the American invasion of Afghanistan, the United States and the Taliban have concluded an agreement on ways to make peace. In Doha, the capital of the Gulf Emirate of Qatar, the American special envoy for reconciliation in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, and the head of the Taliban political office in Doha, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, signed the agreement in front of around 300 invited guests. American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also present at the ceremony.
The agreement, which has been negotiated for over a year and a half, is intended to trigger the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. In return, the Taliban are supposed to provide guarantees that the country will not become a safe haven for terrorists and that they will start peace talks with the government in Kabul.
The first step is to reduce the number of American troops by around a third. This emerges from a joint statement by the Afghan and American governments, which was published shortly before the signing in Doha in the Afghan capital Kabul. According to this, the number of troops is to be reduced from currently between 12,000 and 13,000 within 135 days to 8,600.
At the same time, the United States worked with NATO and other allies to reduce the number of NATO troops proportionately, the statement said. The United States and its allies would withdraw all of its remaining forces within 14 months.
Washington had asked the Taliban for seven days of “violence reduction” in the war-torn country as a prerequisite for an agreement. The seven days expired at midnight (local time in Afghanistan) on Saturday. According to some information, the phase was not non-violent, but was considerably quieter than usual. The week was seen as a test of whether the Taliban could control their ranks.
America’s President Donald Trump said in Washington on Friday that great progress had been made in deploying Afghanistan – but at great cost to America’s troops, American taxpayers and the Afghan people. In the election campaign, he promised the American people that “I would start taking our troops home and trying to end this war. We are making significant progress in delivering on this promise.”
Pompeo: No Taliban victory
Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke in Doha on Saturday of the agreement as a “real test” for efforts to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan. “A significant reduction in violence will create the conditions for peace, and the lack thereof will create the conditions for failure.” Pompeo warned the Taliban to consider the agreement as an admission of defeat for the United States. “I know that the temptation to declare victory will be great. But a victory for the Afghans will only be achieved if they can live in peace and prosperity. ”
The Taliban were ousted from power by an American-led military coalition in 2001 after hosting the terrorist Osama bin Ladin. The United States blamed Al-Qaeda chief for the September 11, 2001, attacks.
A first step
Especially since the end of the international combat mission at the end of 2014, which was replaced by a training mission, the Taliban have regained their strength. According to the latest American military data available in October 2018, the government ruled little more than half of the country’s counties. Another 30 percent are contested. The Bundeswehr is also involved in the international mission in Afghanistan.
The agreement between America and the Taliban is a first step towards peace. In the classic sense, it is not a peace treaty because there was previously no party to the conflict, the government in Kabul. At the same time, two important points for lasting peace have been outsourced to the intra-Afghan negotiations: a nationwide, permanent ceasefire and an agreement on the future distribution of political power in Afghanistan – that is, how the Taliban will be politically integrated. The actual peace talks for the country are still pending. Observers assume that it will take at least a year to reach peace within Afghanistan.