posted on: Thursday February 27, 2020
by Maura Campbell ’22
On Saturday, February 15, the United States and the Afghan Taliban agreed on a weeklong, partial treaty in the hopes of beginning a movement towards peace. Although the deal is not a complete ceasefire, it was intended to decrease violence in the region for at least the seven days that it was officially in place.
If the violence is significantly decreased due to this treaty, U.S. and Taliban officials and negotiators plan to meet on Feb. 29 to start negotiations for the signing of a pact to end the 18-year-long war in Afghanistan.
Started in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks, the U.S. war in Afghanistan was intended to depose the Taliban government in Afghanistan, which had shielded al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden while he planned the attacks. At nearly two decades long, it is the longest war in U.S. history.
In December 2019, The Washington Post began an investigation that revealed U.S. officials had been misleading the American public on the progress of the war. Confidential documents were released in which several senior U.S. officials expressed their frustrations with the war effort, conflicting with their public statements that positive progress was being made in Afghanistan.
Several months after the release of these documents describing the war as a “dysfunction” with 2,400 American lives lost, the U.S. Defense Department announced official plans to begin the process of negotiating for peace.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that this pact would be a deal to “end the war in Afghanistan, reduce United States and Allied Forces presence, and ensure that no terrorist group ever uses Afghan soil to threaten the United States or our allies.”
One impediment to these peace talks is the Taliban’s demand that the U.S. remove all of its troops from Afghanistan, while the U.S. plans to keep about 9,000 troops in the region for counterterrorism operations. This conflict has been a barrier to peace talks for many years.
In addition, Afghanistan has its own domestic conflicts that may complicate peace negotiations. Ashraf Ghani was recently announced to have won a second term as president of Afghanistan—a contested election, since opponent Abdullah Abdullah has also declared victory in the presidential race. These complications will almost certainly slow down or otherwise complicate the long process of peace negotiations with the United States.
Regardless of these complications, the progress on peace has been widely recognized as a positive development. As the longest military conflict in U.S. history, the Afghanistan War has been a hot topic in politics for the past decade, with many Americans calling for an end to the war and peace in the region.
Overall, experts seem to view this potential for negotiation positively; North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “This could pave the way for negotiations among Afghans, sustainable peace, and ensuring the country is never again a safe haven for terrorists.” This message should give some hope to the American people.