The US and the Taliban have signed an agreement that will eventually, if all goes well, result in the removal of all US troops from the country in 14 months. The full text of the treaty can be read here. The main features are described in this report.
The two sides have long wrangled over the US demand for a ceasefire before the signing of the final peace agreement, which has four points: a timeline of 14 months for the withdrawal of all US and NATO troops from Afghanistan; a Taliban guarantee that Afghan soil will not be used as a launchpad that would threaten the security of the US; the launch of intra-Afghan negotiations by March 10; and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.
Minutes before the deal was signed, a joint statement released by the US and the Afghan government said the US and NATO troops would withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months.
About 14,000 US troops and approximately 17,000 troops from 39 NATO allies and partner countries are stationed in Afghanistan in a non-combatant role.
“The United States will reduce the number of US military forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 and implement other commitments in the US-Taliban agreement within 135 days of the announcement of this joint declaration and the US-Taliban agreement,” the joint statement said.
It added that the Afghan government will engage with the United Nations Security Council “to remove Taliban members from sanctions list by May 29”.
It is not clear where this leaves the long-suffering people of Afghanistan since there is every chance that the Talban, with its utterly reactionary polices, will eventually become the government, replacing the current US-backed one. Relief at not being in a state of war that has killed and wounded well over 100,000 people since 2009 alone, will undoubtedly be balanced by the fear of the country being run by Islamic fundamentalists who have positively ghastly views about women and education, among other things.
If this works out smoothly, Donald Trump will have finally achieved one major campaign promise. On the other hand, it looks like after 19 years of causing death and destruction, we will largely be back to where we were before the war began, with the Taliban in charge of Afghanistan, yet one more example in the long history of futile attempts by foreign powers to control the course of events in that country. Afghanistan is the graveyard for the dreams of empires.