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article imageOp-Ed: Hawks try to prevent a Trump Taliban Afghan peace deal

By Ken Hanly     Sep 1, 2019 in Politics
After some 18 years of US involvement in Afghanistan there have been reports lately that a deal with the Taliban is near and an announcement could be made any day now.
Some hawks are against a deal with the Taliban
Both Republican lawmakers,hawks within the Trump administration, and perhaps some Democrats worry that a deal will lead to the Taliban again taking over the country unless the US stays to help the Afghans fight them off. However, in 18 years and even with many more troops before the US has been unable to defeat the Taliban. At present, they appear to be more than holding their own.
Some of Trump's announcements inconsistent with a deal
Trump has said that the US will always have some presence in Afghanistan. Recently Trump has also said that the US will leave 8,600 troops in Afghanistan as reported in a recent Digital Journal article.
The Taliban have always been adamant in supporting their demand that any deal is contingent upon all foreign troops withdrawing from Afghanistan. It is not clear how the US negotiator Zalmay Khalilizad can negotiate a deal successfully in the face of such statements.
Outline of a deal
A recent article gives a general view of a possible peace deal: "In return for the U.S. drawdown, the Taliban would renounce ties with al Qaeda and guarantee Afghanistan would not be used to plot operations against the United States or its allies. They also would open talks on a political settlement with the Afghan government, opposition parties and civil society."
US officials say the US withdrawal would be based on conditions and would stop if the Taliban reneged on the agreement. Perhaps in the details the Taliban agreed to let some US troops remain pending an agreement between them and Afghans including some members of the government but only in their personal capacity. The Taliban regard the present Afghan government as a puppet of the US and thus would never negotiate directly with them.
Positive factors
Both Trump and the Taliban have made optimistic statements about a deal being near.
One prominent hawk in the Trump administration John Bolton has been sidelined during negotiations as a report yesterday notes: "As the president's top aides prepared for a high-stakes meeting on the future of Afghanistan earlier this month, one senior official was not on the original invite list: national security adviser John Bolton."
While Bolton may have been prevented from sabotaging the talks directly no doubt he is hard at work behind the scenes marshaling all the administration and lawmaker hawks he can find to help kill any deal.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about John bolton, Afghan war, Afghan taliban
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