Have the Taliban won the war?
The war is not over, but the past week’s events have tilted the balance of military power and political momentum very heavily in the Taliban’s favour. It is very unlikely that the Afghan government will be able to turn the tide, let alone recapture all the territory it has lost.
Over the past week, the Taliban overran government forces in two large Afghan cities, Kunduz and Ghazni, that had been besieged by the insurgent group for years. The loss of these cities, prompted by mass surrenders of government forces after the Taliban offered clemency amid fierce fighting, were quickly followed by the Taliban’s resumption of strong assaults on the cities of Herat and Kandahar, two of Afghanistan’s largest, most economically productive and culturally rich urban centres.… Seguir leyendo »
What’s new in the Biden announcement that the U.S. will withdraw all troops by 11 September? Why was the announcement made now?
President Joe Biden’s televised remarks on 14 April were the first clear statement of his decision to end U.S. military involvement in the war in Afghanistan. They also marked the first time that he has conveyed that the U.S. will – almost – stick to the withdrawal timeline the Trump administration agreed upon with the Taliban. Biden made clear that the U.S. would miss the 1 May deadline set out in the U.S.-Taliban agreement reached in February 2020, but that it would “begin” withdrawing on that date, and then complete its withdrawal by 11 September.… Seguir leyendo »
If there is one thing the United States should have learned after two decades in Afghanistan, it’s that there are no quick fixes. That has proved true for the war, and it’s true for any possibility of a negotiated peace. But faced with the decision whether to comply with a May 1 deadline for pulling out all troops under a deal the U.S. government signed with the Taliban in February 2020, Washington is now searching for a shortcut to an Afghan political settlement. There isn’t one.
U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has delivered to the Afghan government and Taliban a draft Afghanistan Peace Agreement—the central idea of which is replacing the elected Afghan government with a so-called transitional one that would include the Taliban and then negotiate among its members the future permanent system of government.… Seguir leyendo »
Afghanistan may not rank in the top tier of U.S. President Joe Biden’s policy priorities, given the host of pressing crises in the United States. But Afghanistan’s fate hinges in large part on how the Biden team decides to approach the country’s conflict and its tenuous, still-nascent peace process. Biden will be compelled to make critical decisions on Afghanistan during his first months in office that will affect the country’s conflict—and relationship with the U.S.—for years to come.
Over the past year, the outgoing U.S. administration attempted to set a peace process in motion by signing a political agreement with the Taliban in February 2020, exchanging a commitment to withdraw international military forces for assurances the insurgent group would address transnational terrorism concerns, enter peace talks with the Afghan government, and work toward a cease-fire and political roadmap to end the war, among other things.… Seguir leyendo »
What took so long?
The U.S.-Taliban agreement signed in Doha, Qatar on 29 February specified that peace talks among the Afghan parties to the conflict would begin on 10 March. After months of delay, these intra-Afghan talks are finally set to commence, also in Doha, on 12 September.
A number of factors contributed to the postponement, some arising immediately after the U.S.-Taliban agreement was signed. The Afghan government showed reluctance to implement a provision calling for the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners, for fear of losing domestic standing as well as its negotiating leverage, while the Taliban re-escalated violence across the country in hopes of maintaining theirs.… Seguir leyendo »
Why was the Ghani-Abdullah agreement needed and what does it achieve?
President Ashraf Ghani and former Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, as well as their respective allies, had been locked in a dispute over the results of Afghanistan’s presidential election held on 28 September 2019. While preliminary numbers suggested that Ghani held a firm lead, official results were delayed for months as electoral bodies conducted recounts and, later, audits. Final results that gave Ghani just over 50 per cent, which would narrowly avoid a run-off against Abdullah, were abruptly announced in February, before the electoral complaints process was completed. Abdullah and his supporters declared the results invalid and announced their intent to establish a “parallel government”.… Seguir leyendo »
In late March, Afghanistan’s minister of public health publicly shared estimates that up to 25 million Afghans could eventually be infected with the novel coronavirus. This is out of a population of about 36 million. The Afghan government has announced a wide range of measures to contain the virus, mirroring global practices of physical distancing. But the weaknesses of health care infrastructure in a country weighed down by poverty and four decades of conflict render Afghanistan especially challenged to manage any major outbreak. Reports of COVID-19-related deaths remain low, but hospitals are straining and are beginning to lose staff: staff are not only falling ill, with some even dying of the disease, but many are simply refusing to work under conditions they deem hazardous.… Seguir leyendo »
What just happened in talks between the U.S. and the Taliban?
A critical milestone in efforts to end the Afghan conflict was reached on 21 February, when Taliban and U.S. representatives issued statements confirming that they had reached an agreement providing for gradual U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, in exchange for Taliban promises to sever ties with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups and to enter intra-Afghan negotiations to resolve the world’s deadliest conflict. The statements explained that the U.S. and Taliban would sign the agreement on 29 February in Doha, Qatar – where negotiations have been conducted for over a year – contingent on the successful completion of a seven-day period of “reduction in violence”, which is meant to begin on 22 February.… Seguir leyendo »