The Issue of Peace Between the U.S. and The Taliban


Taliban representatives at peace talks in Doha, Qatar. (Karim Jaafar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images) m Jaafar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Kari m Jaafar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Karim Jaafar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Bella Rock, Reporter

Over the course of the past few months, the U.S. Government and the Taliban have been engaged in peace talks with a goal result of the removal of U.S. Troops from Afghanistan, after their occupation of the country for the past 18 years.

The hope for these pending agreements is to promptly reduce violence in several areas of American occupation in the country.

However, the specifics of said reduction are unclear, including if it would basically be an enlarged cease-fire.

Zalmay Khalilzad, an American envoy who has lead these peace talks for about a year, told the New York Times that the current plan includes the removal of 5,400 troops within 135 days of the agreement’s signing.

This initial withdraw would include either the closing of 5 U.S. military bases or transferring said bases to the possession of the Afghan Government. This would be the start of the eventual removal of all 14,000 United States troops.

Western officials have told the Times that the timeline for this removal is currently 16 months.

These talks also suggest the beginning of discussions between the Taliban and Afghan Government, including planning a potential cease-fire.

In regards to how close the two parties are to finalizing the agreement, it was near completion.

However, as of September 7th, President Trump has called off any further peace talks due to a recent Taliban attack in Kabul that resulted in the death of a U.S soldier. Even so, as reported by NPR, Taliban officials wish to meet with the President and discuss said announcement before responding further.

Unfortunately, violence continues amidst these peace talks. Recently, the Taliban has launched attacks on two cities in Northern Afghanistan within a two day period. This increasing violence has led to many civilian casualties.

According to the New York Times, local officials have stated that 12 civilians were killed in an airstrike on the Girziwan district.

There is also the threat of ISIS, The Islamic State, in the area. Afghan officials say the group has been pushed to a mountainous area near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

ISIS’s violence in the country itself is currently reduced to smaller suicide bombings such as the wedding party boming on August 18th that left 63 killed and 190 injured.

As stated in the Washington Post, the U.S Military and United Nations have estimated there to be 2,500 to 5,000 Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan. However, there are fears that these numbers could increase.

If the United States and the Taliban restart peace talks and reach an agreement, there is the potential for the more radical members of the Taliban to split off and join ISIS.

One Western official told the Washington Post that the Islamic State is, “trying to position itself as being able to reap the benefit of any fissures in the Taliban after a peace deal.”

He went on to mention that ISIS has previously criticized the Taliban for “negotiating with the enemy.”

It is feared that attacks from ISIS will increase in size and number if an agreement is reached, minimizing the threat of U.S. forces and the former enemy of the Taliban to ISIS.