(RightWing.org) – President Trump has taken another step towards achieving his pledge to end the war in Afghanistan, conditionally agreeing to a peace deal with the Taliban insurgents who have plagued the country with violence and oppression since 1996. If the deal holds, it could allow the US to radically cut troop deployments there, ending a campaign that’s lasted for more than 18 years.
Following nearly a year of often volatile negotiations, the US and the Taliban are on the edge of an agreement that could take most of the heat out of the Afghan insurgency.
- Peace talks began early 2019 and involved the US, the Afghan government and senior representatives of the Taliban movement.
- The Taliban emerged from religious schools in Pakistan’s lawless frontier regions in 1996 – “Talib” is Pashto for “student.” Most of the original members were Afghan refugees determined to overthrow the warring Mujahideen leaders who ruled Afghanistan at the time.
- However, years of attrition have thinned the Taliban’s ranks. While most of the leaders are still Afghans, the lower-ranking members, who do the actual fighting, have been heavily-padded with foreign volunteers, mostly Arabs and Chechens.
- By 2001, the illegal Taliban regime, recognized only by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and its sponsor, Pakistan, controlled over 90% of Afghanistan – but after the 9/11 attacks, they were defeated by US and Coalition forces. Since then, they’ve been trying to regain control.
- The ongoing talks in Doha are aimed at getting the Taliban to end their campaign of violence and accept that Afghanistan is now a democracy. Progress has been rocky, with the US walking away for a while last September and launching a new campaign to kill Taliban leaders. At the time, President Trump said the talks were “dead.”
- However, talks later resumed, and now a deal looks to be in sight. Administration officials say any agreement is conditional on the Taliban giving up violence, which is a step up on previous objectives of a “reduction in violence.” Hardliners within the Taliban still oppose the deal, but the momentum seems to be swinging against them.
- If the Taliban agree to stop their attacks, and stick to that, the US will be able to withdraw most of the roughly 13,000 American troops in the country. Some will probably remain to help with training Afghan security forces, but hopefully, President Trump will soon achieve his goal of ending our long-running combat mission in the “graveyard of empires.”
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