On February 29, representatives of the United States government and the Taliban signed a peace agreement in Doha, the capital of Qatar. Once the enemies on the battlefield shook hands and made peace, ending the longest war in American history.
Under the agreement, the United States will begin to phase out its forces in Afghanistan, while the Taliban have promised to stop supporting terrorists. If the Taliban keep their promise, the U.S. and its allies troops will be completely withdrawn from Afghanistan within 14 months.
Americans are leaving. Where is Afghanistan going? Will this country, which has been at war for the past 40 years, walk on the road to final peace through such a peace agreement? Maybe it all depends on time.
Hard won agreement
February 29 is the last day of a seven-day violence reduction agreement between the United States and the Taliban. According to the agreement, the two sides will only sign the peace agreement if it is strictly implemented. Fortunately, all parties have been safe in the past seven days.
The agreement was signed by U.S. special envoy for reconciliation in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Taliban veteran Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. US Secretary of state Mike pompeio witnessed the signing of the agreement on the spot. In Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, U.S. Defense Secretary mark esper issued a joint statement with the Afghan government.
Previously, the two sides repeatedly negotiated core issues such as withdrawal and counter-terrorism support, which were arranged in the agreement signed on the 29th. According to the agreement, in the next 135 days, the United States will reduce the number of its troops in Afghanistan from the current 13000 to 8600. If the Taliban keep their counter-terrorism commitments, U.S. forces will be completely withdrawn from Afghanistan within 14 months.
In a speech before the signing ceremony, pompeio said the United States will pay close attention to the implementation of the Talibans commitments and adjust the speed of our withdrawal according to their actions.
Abas stanekzai, senior Taliban negotiator and director of the Doha Office of the Taliban, declared on the 29th, today is victory day.
The agreement did not come easily. To bring about such an agreement, representatives of the United States and the Taliban held talks in Doha for 18 months, during which they almost fell short.
In fact, the peace process in Afghanistan has been started long before trump. In addition to the process initiated by the Afghan government, the U.S. government contacted the Taliban in 2010, but no substantive results have been achieved. It wasnt until Trump came to power that negotiations with the Taliban accelerated.
Trump played a decisive role in reaching the agreement, and he has the final say. Liu Zongyi, Secretary General of the China South Asia cooperation research center of the Shanghai Institute of international studies, said in an interview with www.thepaper.cn.
However, just as the agreement was about to be signed, a US soldier was killed in an attack in Kabul. Trump cancelled the secret meeting with Taliban representatives at Camp David and announced that the peace talks with the Taliban had died. However, the peace talks resumed after a three-month hiatus.
This historic agreement marks the official end of the war in Afghanistan. This protracted war lasted for 18 years and was the longest in American history.
In 2001, the U.S. mainland suffered the 9 / 11 terrorist attacks launched by Al Qaeda. The U.S. government launched the war in Afghanistan after it failed to ask the Taliban regime to hand over the leader of Al Qaeda, bin Laden, to destroy the Taliban regime by force.
Although Rumsfeld, then US Defense Secretary, declared as early as May 2003 that major military operations in Afghanistan had ended, the fighting in Afghanistan had never ended.
More than 2400 U.S. military personnel have died in the past 18 years, according to Pentagon data. The United States spent 737 billion dollars on this war. The media gave a higher figure, spending as much as $2 trillion.
In the past 18 years, despite the high cost paid by the United States in Afghanistan, the Taliban have not only not been exterminated, but become more and more powerful. According to the New York Times, in 2018, the effective control and influence area of the Afghan government was only 56% of the total land area, down sharply from 72% in November 2015.
For the United States, it doesnt have much choice. Because after so many years of fighting, the Taliban could not be eliminated at all, and the stronger the Talibans Vietnam War, the weaker the Afghan governments Vietnam War. So Trumps withdrawal is actually the best policy for the United States. Liu said.
Trump recognized the reality
But no matter how Obama refuses to admit the reality, the mess in Afghanistan is like a nightmare. A Afghan document released by the Washington Post at the end of last year perfectly annotated the war.
Like the truth of the Vietnam War revealed in the Pentagon document of 1971, the Afghanistan document also reveals how the U.S. government has long concealed the truth, misled the public and portrayed the illusion of victory.
According to the document, during the 18 years of military operations in Afghanistan, senior U.S. officials have been issuing optimistic statements knowing it is wrong, never telling the truth about the war in Afghanistan, but there is clear evidence that the United States cannot win the war in Afghanistan.
In fact, Obama didnt want to end the troubled war earlier. With the promise of ending the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama increased his troops in Afghanistan at the beginning of his term of office, but failed to win the expected victory.
In May 2011, bin Laden, the founder of the September 11 incident and the leader of Al Qaeda, was killed by the US military. This incident should have been a sign of the end of the war. After all, former President George W. Bush launched the war to eliminate al Qaeda and bin Laden.
But 10 years after the war broke out, the U.S. military could not easily get out of Afghanistan. Obama wants Afghan government forces and police to take over US security responsibilities after training, but with the further strengthening of the Taliban offensive after bin Ladens death, all of this has been in vain.
The embattled Obama began to shrink his forces in Afghanistan. As the U.S. military shrinks, the Taliban begin to make a comeback. In particular, the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated rapidly after us and NATO forces ended their operations in Afghanistan at the end of 2014 and handed over defense to Afghan security forces. Obama had to announce plans to slow the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan as he stepped down in 2016.
Obama took over the mess from Bush and then left it to trump, his successor. Confident trump announced early in the campaign that he would withdraw from Afghanistan immediately and end the war that wasted too much time, energy and money.
But trump soon realized that it wasnt that simple. As he later said, the decision you make sitting at your desk in the Oval Office is totally different.
In August 2017, trump officially launched the Afghanistan and South Asia strategy which has been brewing for a long time. After weighing up again and again, trump made an unexpected decision: to increase the number of troops.
Our country must have dignified and lasting results so that the great sacrifices that have been made will not be wasted, trump explained. Secondly, the results of a rapid withdrawal are predictable, but unacceptable.
Like Obama, trump tried to gamble in Afghanistan with a winning plan. one day, after effective military efforts, it may be possible to achieve a political solution
But Trumps good wishes soon fell through. Obama failed to achieve the goal of 100000 troops, and less than 4000 trump troops are just a drop in the bucket. When trump finally realized that military means could not defeat the Taliban, a political solution was on the table.
Uncertain road to peace
From the surge to the peace talks, Trumps transformation did not experience too much struggle. After all, in Trumps eyes, everything is a calculation of interests. For trump, political means are obviously much more cost-effective than military means.
At home, though, not everyone accepts Trumps transformation. His first defense chief, James Matisse, resigned after he announced his withdrawal from Syria and further plans to withdraw from Afghanistan.
In August last year, as the US government and the Taliban approached an agreement, the contents of the agreement disclosed by the media quickly caused controversy in the US. The core elements of the agreement include the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the Talibans commitment not to support al Qaeda and fight terrorism.
David Petraeus, a former commander of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that he strongly opposed the agreement.
Petraeus said a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan would be more unwise and risky than the Obama administrations decision to withdraw from Iraq in 2011. He pointed out that the current situation in Afghanistan is far worse than that in Iraq when the U.S. troops left in 2011. If the current full withdrawal will lead to a full-scale civil war and the re emergence of terrorist shelters.
There have also been disagreements within the trump administration over a peace deal with the Taliban. Although pompeio attended and witnessed the signing ceremony on the 29th. But at a state department Ambassador meeting earlier this week, pompeio privately said he attended the signing ceremony only because trump insisted on his participation, AP reported. Last September, as negotiations between the United States and the Taliban progressed, it was reported in the media that pompeio refused to sign the agreement.
This is not the only worrying factor. According to the agreement, many Taliban militants will lay down their weapons. There is still a question about whether they can ensure that these people are really released. Many fear that some of the main fighters within the Taliban may choose to switch to other terrorist organizations such as the Islamic state.
What is most worrying is whether the political dialogue and reconciliation in Afghanistan can go smoothly after the signing of the peace agreement. According to the agreement, after the signing of the peace agreement, the Taliban will start negotiations with the current Afghan government on future political arrangements. It remains to be seen whether the Taliban will abide by the agreement, considering that the Taliban has always regarded the current Afghan government as a puppet of the United States and refused to talk directly with it.
Will there be negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government after the American withdrawal? This is a problem. Liu Zongyi doubts this possibility. The American idea is a better result. The current Afghan government talks with the Taliban to make the Taliban part of the current government, which is actually a form of security call . But I think its hard for the Taliban to accept this result.
On the other hand, the chaos within the current Afghan government has also added uncertainty to the subsequent talks. Last Septembers general election in Afghanistan did not release the results until February 18. Although the vote shows that the current president, Ashraf Ghani, has been re elected, Abdullah Abdullah, the governments chief executive, refuses to acknowledge the election results.
There are concerns that negotiations with the Taliban will be affected if the election dispute is not properly resolved. To this end, the U.S. government may not persuade Ghani to suspend the re-election ceremony on February 25, so as to have more time to resolve the presidential election dispute and form a delegation to negotiate with the Taliban.
But there are still optimists. Barnett Rubin, a leading Afghan expert and executive director of the international center of New York University, said in a recent Washington Post column that the agreement was worth a try..
It meets the core demands of both sides in the latest phase of the war: for the Taliban, its the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, for the United States, its the Taliban who make sure they dont harbor terrorists. Lu Bin is optimistic that this agreement can start a process, which will be the best opportunity to end 40 years of war in Afghanistan.