Trump Makes Peace with Taliban

“This is how we will ensure that Afghanistan never again serves as a base for international terrorists,” Pompeo said.

On Saturday, President Trump made a huge step towards coming through with yet another campaign promise when the United States signed the “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan” that paves the way for the end of the longest war in U.S. history and the withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Afghanistan. 

The surprisingly succinct four-page agreement was signed in Doha, Qatar, by US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad — the chief US negotiator in the talks with the Taliban — and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar — the Taliban’s chief negotiator. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo witnessed the signing.

“This is a hopeful moment, but it’s only the beginning,” Pompeo said at a news conference in the Qatari capital Saturday. “There’s a great deal of hard work ahead on the diplomatic front… [The U.S.]will closely watch the Taliban’s compliance with their commitments, and calibrate the pace of our withdrawal to their actions.”

“This is how we will ensure that Afghanistan never again serves as a base for international terrorists,” Pompeo said.

The agreement outlines a 14-month timetable that begins with a lessening of U.S. troops to 8,600 within 135 days and culminates in the complete withdrawal of “all military forces of the United States, its allies, and Coalition partners, including all non-diplomatic civilian personnel, private security contractors, trainers, advisors, and supporting services personnel.”

The US will also lift sanctions against the Taliban and work with the UN to lift its separate sanctions against the group.

In return, the Taliban guarantees that Afghan soil will not be used by foreign armed groups including al Qaeda to threaten the security of the US and its allies.

President Trump on Saturday told reporters at a White House news conference that he would be “meeting personally with Taliban leaders in the not too distant future” 

The deal also provides for a prisoner swap, exchanging some 5,000 Taliban prisoners and 1,000 Afghan security force prisoners before March 10. After the exchange, talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government are due to start.

One stumbling block that stands in the way of the agreement coming to fruition is the Taliban want the Afghani government to release 5,000 of their prisoners before they start. The Afghani government wants to use those detainees as leverage in the upcoming talks that must still be held with the Taliban. The government wants to force the Taliban to agree to a ceasefire.

The Taliban, who refer to themselves as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, are a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement and military organization in Afghanistan currently waging war (an insurgency, or jihad) within that country.