GP Insights # 256, 16 February 2020
US and Taliban have agreed to a seven-day 'Reduction in Violence' deal, as Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on the sidelines of the Munich security conference on Friday.
What is the background?
The 'Reduction is Violence' deal is the latest between the US and Taliban, as a part of their on-off negotiations. 2019 witnessed several attempts and failures between the US and the Taliban.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Envoy, had made several trips to Doha to lead the negotiations between the Taliban and the US. The negotiations have focussed on three critical issues about a US-Taliban Peace deal: Complete withdrawal of US and NATO forces from the region, a permanent ceasefire between the Taliban and the government and Intra-Afghan talks. Negotiations took a downturn when the Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack in September 2019. A deal that was to be announced in the US was declared 'dead' by President Donald Trump.
Later, Khalilzad made several trips to Afghanistan and had talks with Taliban leaders. In November the talks resumed after Trump's visit to Bagram airbase in Afghanistan.
Armed hostilities continued between Taliban and US troops even when the talks were happening.
What does it mean?
First, unless any deal that fails to bring both the Taliban and the Afghan government is less likely to lead towards a permanent solution once again. Second, the forthcoming US election means more pressure on the Trump administration to bring back the American troops.
Third, the success of the deal would depend on how the immediate region is likely to respond. For example, Pakistan.