GP Insights # 269, 29 February 2020
On 29 February, the US officials and the Taliban representatives signed the long-awaited peace deal in Doha.
Initial reports hint that the deal would lead to the following. First, the US would withdraw troops from Afghanistan over the next 14 months. Second, the Taliban would cut ties with other foreign terrorist networks like Al-Qaeda and ISIS and prevent Afghanistan from being used to attack against the US. Third, an intra-Afghan talk would begin in March 2020.
Mike Pompeo said, ‘the US will closely watch the Taliban compliance with their commitment and calibrate the pace of our withdrawal to their action’.
The agreement was signed in the presence of representatives from Pakistan, India, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Tajikistan and Indonesia.
What is the background?
Last week, the US and the Taliban signed a ‘reduction in violence’ agreement in Afghanistan; according to available reports, it was a success story. The last two years witnessed several failed attempts in the signing of the peace deal.
Earlier, in September 2019, the US and the Taliban were on the verge of signing a deal, which was abruptly declared ‘dead’ by the US President Donald Trump after the death of an American soldier. Negotiations restarted later in November. The Afghan government has not been included in the talks, but it is believed they are consulted.
Outside the negotiations, there was another process inside Afghanistan and a problem arising from it. In September 2019, there was a Presidential election; Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah were the lead contestants. Last week, Ashraf Ghani was declared as the winner of the presidential election held in September 2019. Abdullah has refused to accept the results and announced the formation of a parallel government.
The US so far has declined to acknowledge the election results. Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah agreed on Tuesday, to postpone the swearing ceremony for two weeks, in ‘order to support the peace process’.
What does it mean?
For the first time, the Taliban has successfully signed a deal with the US, which has given legitimacy to the Taliban. A deal with a complete withdrawal of foreign force and no intervention in Afghan politics is a great achievement for the Taliban.
Second, the seven-day reduction between the US and the Taliban has affirmed the Taliban leadership and ability to control its forces. The deal signed is a ‘step forward’ by both the nations to bring stability in Afghanistan.
Third, the Afghan government, which has been precluded from the deal has come to terms, under pressure, to accept the deal. The talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban may help in deciding the future course of the country.
Fourth, the presence of regional actors, Pakistan and India at the signing ceremony signifies their importance in keeping the peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan has played a crucial role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.