GR News Desk | New Delhi
The United States (US) and Taliban signed a peace deal on Saturday in Doha, Qatar, signalling an end to the two-decades long war after nearly two years of protracted negotiations. Diplomats from Afghanistan, the US, India, Pakistan, and other UN member states gathered on Saturday morning along with Taliban representatives in Doha where the deal was signed.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also present during the occasion and stood alongside leaders of the Taliban, who harboured Osama-bin-Laden and his Al-Qaida network that plotted the hijackings of four airliners on September 11, 2001, that crashed into Twin Towers of New York, the Pentagon and a field in western Pennsylvania, killing almost 3,000 people.
Within 135 days from today, the US has committed to shorten its troops count to 8,600 from currently existing 13,000, provided that Taliban fulfill’s its commitments in the deal. Coalition forces will also trim their troop presence in proportion to the US forces. Further, remaining forces of the US will be withdrawn within 14 months of the agreement.
As per the agreement, Afghanistan will not be harbouring terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida and ISIS that pose threat to the US, its allies and any other country, and curb groups that contribute to terror financing. Moreover, the deal outlines that there will be intra-Afghan negotiations for future political course of the nation, apart from “permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”.
If everything goes as planned, the ongoing process will make Americans withdraw from one of the bloodiest conflicts in the modern history. Over 100,000 Afghan civilians have been killed or injured, according to the UN. The failed American intervention has cost American taxpayers over $1 trillion in military and reconstruction costs since 2001.
According to most observers, intra-Afghan negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan government, its opposition and civil society, which aim to define the future of the country and in particular who will direct it, look much longer and more arduous than those between the insurgents and Washington. The future negotiations can get even more complicated due to fissures in the Afghan state as Kabul authorities are divided between President Ashraf Ghani and his opponent, former Vice President Abdullah Abdullah, who alleged election fraud and is not ready to accept his defeat in the September 2019 presidential election.
Dozens of Taliban members meanwhile held a small victory march in Qatar in which they waved the militant group’s white flags, according to a video shared on Taliban websites. “Today is the day of victory, which has come with the help of Allah,” said Abbas Stanikzai, one of the Taliban’s lead negotiators, who joined the march.
Trump has repeatedly promised to get the US out of its “endless wars” in the Middle East, and the withdrawal of troops could provide a boost as he seeks re-election bid later this year in a nation weary of involvement in distant conflicts.
(With input from agencies)