Multiple news outlets are reporting that the United States government and the Taliban are negotiating towards peace in Afghanistan.
Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, the key U.S. negotiator with the Taliban, has told The New York Times that the group has agreed in principle to initial drafts of a deal.
If an agreement can be reached, it would end 17 years of bloodshed in the country as well as the longest war in U.S. history.
The general framework of the agreement is based on the Taliban agreeing to stop using Afghanistan as a staging ground for its activities, and in turn, the U.S. will pledge to withdraw its military from the country.
Additionally, the U.S. wants to see the Taliban agree to a ceasefire and to communicate directly with the Afghan government, something the group has long refused to do.
Still, many insist that the simple fact that the U.S. government is willing to openly negotiate with the Taliban should be seen as encouraging.
Plenty of work remains to iron out the finer points of the agreement, particularly the timing and coordination of a ceasefire as well as what the ultimate relationship will be between the official Afghan government and the Taliban.
How other groups will fit into the picture, like women and other minority groups, also remains to be determined.
The biggest roadblock, however, may very well prove to be the country’s longtime dependence on international aid.
“In particular, remember, Afghanistan is dependent on aid. And whatever Afghans may be able to agree on won’t mean very much if the international community is not willing to fund it. So we need an international framework for this agreement as well. And we have hardly begun to talk about that.” — Barnett Rubin, director of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Program at the Center on International Cooperation
The other factor to consider in this process is Afghanistan’s neighbor, Pakistan, and its own vested interests in the peace process.
Pakistan, of course, would prefer to maintain an Afghan government that is anti-Indian and pro-Pakistani, which would suggest that the Pakistani government could likely throw its support behind a Taliban-friendly government.
For now, though, the nation seems to simply be facilitating the process; their true intentions will likely become clear as the situation develops.
Iron Triangle Press will continue to report on the negotiations.