Written by Quinn Bourret (News Writer)
The future of Afghanistan is currently being determined in meetings between Afghanistan, the US, and the Islamic terrorist group, the Taliban. According to a previous agreement, the U.S. is to leave the country. But with a new president, that agreement may not be upheld, and the future of the country is all but uncertain. If the US leaves, Afghanistan might fall to the Taliban. If the US does not, the US will be forced to spend billions more on the war.
After nearly two decades of violence, strife, and civil war between the Taliban and the Afghan government, Donald Trump agreed with the Taliban last February to seek peace, one that did not include Afghanistan. The US would pull out of Afghanistan, withdrawing all troops from the country. In exchange, the Taliban would not attack the US and would cut ties with other terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda. Since then, the number of US troops in Afghanistan has dropped from 13,000 to 2,500. The deadline for the remainder of the troops to leave is May 1. However, evidence suggests the Taliban has not upheld their side of the deal and continues to work with Al-Qaeda. Furthermore, violence against civilians continues to spike even as peace talks go on.
The discussion began again on January 5, but little headway was made due to Joe Biden’s soon inauguration; to those involved, it seemed that discussion would be futile if Biden had a different approach to the situation than Trump. Peace talks would eventually be canceled altogether and both sides would prepare lists of what they sought to accomplish. The US and Afghanistan both seek an armistice, while it seems the Taliban is split on peace. There are ideas that members of the Taliban will be pardoned and allowed to be part of the normal political process as their party, but all sides seem suspicious of such an arrangement.
With Biden’s presidential inauguration, peace talks in Afghanistan have continued. Biden has retained the US envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, but whether or not Biden will continue Trump’s policy has yet to be seen. Many suggest that the deadline for withdrawal be extended as they believe leaving too quickly will be dangerous. Many analysts predict Biden will pick another option, however; he might choose to stay in Afghanistan and potentially bring in more troops again. This prediction is based on Biden’s experience as Vice President under Obama, who notably increased the American presence in Afghanistan during his tenure.
Currently, the discussion rests on finding the agenda of the meeting. The lists prepared during the break in the meetings will help show what each side wants to achieve in the situation. With an agenda, the diplomats will discuss each subject on the lists and attempt to agree on each problem.
The situation is further complicated by NATO, which retains 8,000 troops from non-American countries. They are not involved in combat, their mission in the country is to train Afghan troops instead. Once outnumbered, the situation has reversed in terms of how many troops they have in comparison to the US as most American soldiers have already left. What they would do if the US completely pulled out of Afghanistan has not yet been decided, according to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
The peace talks will determine the future of Afghanistan. As of yet, a decision is yet to be reached but war or peace will follow.